Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Movie Review - Fun Size

My wife and I were looking for a movie to attend last weekend. I'd seen the title "Fun Size" in the listing but knew absolutely nothing about it. Reading the synopsis I gathered that it's a teeny-bopper style slapstick comic adventure. The basic jist is that a high school girl (Wren) gets invited to the popular boy's Halloween party only to later find out that she's supposed to take her younger brother (Albert)Trick-or-Treating (because her recently widowed mom is going to a Halloween party with her new college-aged boyfriend). Wren's best friend (April) figures they can take Albert Trick-or-Treating and go to the party after…but they lose track of him and spend the rest of the night trying to find him (and get to the party).

The premise sounded just light-hearted and cheesy enough that it could be fun. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous when the title credits started to roll and the slate came out indicating this was made by "Nickelodeon Pictures." I worried that we were in for a big-screen "made for tv" teenage cable TV sitcom. And in some respects, that's partially what it delivered.  Fortunately, it went beyond that.

The movie has (at least to me) virtually no "known" or "pop-culture" actors in the cast other than Chelsea Handler as the mother and an uncredited Johnny Knoxville. Looking at IMDB it appears that a number of the kids in the cast are big in the teenage TV scene, so I guess I'm just hitting a generation gap as far as cast knowledge and that some of these kids may be a draw to the tween crowd.

The first ~15 or 20 minutes of the movie had some laughs but I continued to be nervous that it wasn't going to "up the ante" and become a "worth watching" film. There was an early scene where the main heroine (Wren) is getting dressed and finds that her little brother (Albert) has been chopping up all of her clothes.  The scene felt slodgy and out of place and didn't really propel things forward other than to accentuate that her brother annoys her. There were a couple of other short scenes like this one.

We also get to see a number of other VERY quirky behaviors from Albert. The bathroom scene is just crazy. We get a scene out on the street where Wren is acting very nerdy to the chagrin of her best friend. And naturally, the "popular guy" picks that moment to come by. We get a quick intro to the other "geeky outsiders" who we're going to spend a good portion of the film with. There was some setup that needed to happen and that's what these first few scenes take care of. They just felt a little stale even when trying to be funny.

Fortunately things picked up once we finally reach Halloween night. There was some mildly witty banter between Wren and her best friend April as they wandered the streets helping Albert do his Trick-or-Treating. His Trick-or-Treating is more "productive" than the standard "ring the bell and hold out your bag" method, which gives a few laughs. After a few minutes of this, the girls get distracted and later notice that Albert is missing. They spend a frantic few minutes looking for him and then Wren acknowledges she's in serious trouble.

It's at this point that the movie takes it up a notch. Albert doesn't  "get lost" per se. He's actually a very manipulative and maniacal 6-year-old. He had very purposefully hidden behind some decorations and waited for Wren and April to search for him elsewhere. It's at this point that the adventure really begins. Albert makes his way to a local convenience store for a Slushee and some snacks. We meet the convenience store worker Fuzzy who tries to chat things up with "Spidey" (Albert's in a Spider Man costume). Albert hasn't spoken for 6-months since his father died. So any conversation where he's on screen is very one sided even though he does a great job with non-verbal cues.

Somehow "Spidey" inspires Fuzzy to seek justice for his own broken heart and he invites Albert to come along. The "mission" that Fuzzy takes Albert on is just silly but quickly degrades into ridiculous slapstick that results in Albert getting taken all over the city and having other adventures. I really felt like Albert stole the show many times over. Though he did have some definite competition with a few scenes.

About this time, Wren and April meet up with their geeky/awkward friends who happen to (maybe) have access to a car. Wren begs them to help drive them around and find Albert. The initial interaction and the "can I borrow the car" scene are pretty funny. Once they start driving, they naturally have their own adventures. April is aghast that they're driving around with these two geeky boys. Wren is distraught that she's not going to find Albert. The two boys (Roosevelt and Peng) are awkwardly nervous and over excited at being with the girls.

Throughout the movie, Albert's adventures are inappropriate for a 6-year old yet strangely appropriate for "this" 6-year old and are generally very funny. Wren and the gang are often just one step behind Albert and his escapades but are so busy trying to save their own skin that they never quite catch up to him in time.

As you might have guessed, one of the geeky boys (Roosevelt) has a longtime crush on Wren and tries through the night to get up the nerve to say something. The group does end up at the party of "popular boy" (Aaron) at one point and Roosevelt sees Wren crushing on Aaron and has his own heart broken. Will true teenage love story goodness prevail? I'll let you figure that out on your own (but I'll bet you have a pretty accurate guess).

There were a lot of funny small stories told throughout this movie. And each story overlapped in funny and unexpected ways. As the various plots started winding down, the movie kept up the momentum and the laughs while also bringing in the sitcom style romantic wrap up.

This movie had a number of hilarious laugh out loud moments. It also had plenty of mid-level laughs. However, I must admit that all of this comedy probably only really fits a specific taste or at least a particular "mood" of the viewer. Fortunately my wife and I were both in a mood that made this enjoyable for us. There are a few scenes that I can just mention and she'll break up laughing (I'm looking at you 'Captain Chicken'). So that's a good thing.

What was funny is that after the movie we both had the thought and said to each other that this really reminded us of some of our favorite teenagey comedies from growing up in the 80s. Specifically we both said it reminded us of License to Drive. It also feels a bit like Adventures in Babysitting or other "madcap race around the city with kids" movies like those.

I don't know if this movie will have the same "staying power" or "cult following" that those movies did (I know with License to Drive and Adventures in Babysitting, a lot of fellow "children of the 80s" think about those films very fondly and laugh or smile) but I really feel like "Fun Size" could be this generation's "License to Drive." I would definitely be interested to hear what a modern day teenager has to say/think about this movie and see if I'm off base in my comparison.

So while this movie won't likely be for everybody, it's a fun comedy that definitely shouldn't be taken seriously or with high expectations. It's got some outrageous laughs and ridiculous situations that will make you grin, giggle or even laugh out loud. It was definitely much better than I expected it to be, even knowing what little I knew going in. Not that I think you should keep your expectations super low…this can definitely deliver in filling a certain niche and Fun Size does so quite well.

3.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

ha adventures in babysitting is fun...i have not heard of this one before...on the radar now...