Title: Fun Size
Director: Josh Schwartz
In what is nothing more than a made-for-TV product (no surprise since at the helm sits a producer of teen network dramas such as Gossip Girl and The O.C.), Fun Size somehow managed to squirm its way onto the big screen. All it is, a shanty mash-up of License to Drive and Adventures in Babysitting (or for this generation, insert I Love You Beth Cooper for the former and The Sitter for the latter).
Now it’s trying to be wholesome, yet randomly, and therefore awkwardly, tosses in more mature innuendos; which then turns this into an uneven telling. In other words, just commit to a style and roll with it; especially when you’re only working with average talent in-front and behind the lens.
Set in a Cleveland suburb on Halloween night, Wren (Victoria Justice), a high school senior, is all excited to attend the “it” guy’s (Thomas McDonell) party. However, her widowed mother (Chelsea Handler) is trying to relive her twenties and is also venturing out into the night with her current 26 year-old boy toy (Josh Pence). And that means Wren is stuck looking after her scheming tike brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll making this mildly amusing).
Naturally, Albert runs off during the trick-or-treating festivities and ends up getting into playful shenanigans while embarking on his own little adventure. Wren freaks out and rallies her eclectic group of friends (covering the entire spectrum of high school social statuses) to help locate the quiet chunky kid – wearing a Spider-Man costume with a prosthetic zombie arm. Like I said, the little man is entertaining.
But there’s just not enough of him, and the rest of the script is the very definition of generic.
While all the characters are clichéd and the audience can surmise their background, the story really needed to build an emotional connection with the lead, Wren. Since she is the one co-carrying this through high school parties, to run-ins with shady characters (Johnny Knoxville cameo) around town, you kind of have to give a crap about her life. But you don’t. Now if you don’t do want to develop the characters and keep this light, the filmmakers only have just one other option to please the crowd: make it fun!
All one wants to see more of is the pudgy “Albert” hanging with the broken-hearted quickie-mart store employee, Fuzzy (Thomas Middleditch). The direction of Nicoll’s character, along with his quirky mannerisms, ignite (keeps you attentive and awake) the screenplay, even if it’s just for a minute or two. But once again, when the focus shifts on predictable coming-of-age/ high school angles, people will be instantly turned off. The dialogue is severely under-written and the barely average cast did not have the skills to enhance it at all.
Ironically, the “Albert” character doesn’t talk…hence why he comes out looking clean in this sucker.
Overall, Fun Size is trying to cater to everyone and by doing so, annoys everyone. This could qualify as a movie of the week on say Nickelodeon (who produced this sucker) or Disney. And perhaps, the commercial break-ups would actually assist in the delivery, if that tells you anything. But this is not theater worthy material my friends. Even the tweens, for whom this is geared toward, will think this is too juvenile and cheesy.