Fun Size
dir Josh Schwartz
scr Max Werner
prd Bard Dorros, David Kanter, Stephanie Savage, Josh Schwartz
with Victoria Justice, Jackson Nicoll, Chelsea Handler, Jane Levy, Thomas Mann, Osric Chau, Thomas Middleditch, Josh Pence, Thomas McDonell, Johnny Knoxville, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ana Gasteyer
release US 26.Oct.12, UK 29.Oct.12
12/US Paramount 1h30
Fun Size
Dorothy and the, erm, Lion: Justice and Levy

handler knoxville kenney-silver
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Fun Size It's impossible to know what the filmmakers were trying to do here, since the movie goes in so many directions at once. Ostensibly an Adventures in Babysitting-style action-comedy, it strains to make us laugh. And when it attempts romance or sentimentality, it only feels contrived.

In Ohio, brainy teen Wren (Justice) wants to go to university in New York, but since her dad's death her mom (Handler) is terrified of letting her go. And Wren's mischievous 8-year-old brother Albert (Nicoll) hasn't spoken for a year. On Halloween night, Wren and her pal April (Levy) are excited about a super-cool party, but Mom leaves Wren in charge of Albert, but he ditches her on an adventure with a lonely convenience store clerk (Middleditch). To find him, Wren gets help from fellow nerd Roosevelt (Mann), who has a crush on her.

The set-up is so clear that it's almost painful to see the screenwriter's vain attempts to throw us off the plot's scent. The problem is that the script feels like it was drained of anything even remotely realistic in an attempt to make it pre-teen friendly. Constant toilet humour is aimed at young kids, while for the 18-year-old characters a single kiss is like the end of the world. On the other hand, Handler's subplot is eerily serious, focussing on her sense of loss as a widow whose oldest child is leaving the nest.

This wouldn't be a problem if with witty comedy and engaging drama. But nothing ever clicks into place because it's so badly underdeveloped. The jokes are obvious, including a string of wildly unconvincing slapstick sequences. And the emotions feel cheap, as if just the knowledge that someone has died is enough to add resonance to a movie. But the filmmakers never earn our laughter or our tears.

What's left is a lively romp that refuses to shift into top speed. The only audiences who will like this, besides young children, are those who find a chubby 8-year-old proto-terrorist or silly Halloween costumes hilarious. At least the actors are all very good, so the movie won't destroy their careers. But I'd guess few of them will leave it on their filmographies.

cert 12 themes, language, vulgarity 29.Oct.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall