Review: Fun Size
PLOT: High school senior Wren (Victoria Justice) can’t believe her luck when the school’s resident stud invites her to his Halloween bash. Alas, her plans go awry when her cougar mother- Joy (Chelsea Handler) leaves her in charge of her uncontrollable brother- the pint size Albert (Jackson Nicoll), who quickly flies the coop while trick r’ treating. Now Wren, with her best friends April (Jane Levy), Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau) in tow- must find her brother before her mom gets home.
REVIEW: I hadn't heard a thing about FUN SIZE- not a trailer, an early review or anything, before getting the invite to a pre-screenings last week. After doing a little research, I discovered that FUN SIZE is a big-screen star vehicle for Nickelodeon starlet Victoria Justice, as well as the buzzed about Jane Levy- soon to be seen in the remake of THE EVIL DEAD. For me, the most interesting thing about FUN SIZE is the fact that it happens to be the feature directorial debut of Josh Schwartz- creator of THE O.C (a guilty pleasure of mine from way back) and CHUCK.
Schwartz has been attached to all manner of big-screen franchises, with him even, at one point, being tipped as the X-MEN: FIRST CLASS director. Why then would he make his directorial debut on a Nickelodeon film? Well, I suppose he wanted to work out the kinks of his style on a smaller film before moving on to something bigger- and I’ll give him credit, for what it is FUN SIZE isn’t bad.
To be sure, I’m not the target audience for FUN SIZE. Don’t let the surprising PG-13 rating fool you, this is strictly for teens, with very little in the way of raunch, other than a giant mechanical chicken humping a car (it makes sense when you see it). The story is old hat- with young, clever Wren, looking to escape her hometown- Cleveland, to attend NYU in the fall. Naturally, her mom- who’s just been widowed, doesn't want her to go, yada yada yada.
One thing this is not is THE HANGOVER for teens, which is what the poster and the tagline (“some people just can’t handle Halloween”) seem to be promising. In the lead, Victoria Justice is cute and appealing, although the real star quality here belongs to Jane Levy- a redhead very much in the Emma Stone mold. Their chemistry makes the film worth watching.
Questionably, the film takes a whole bunch of detours throughout, making this the most episodic and meandering ninety minute teen comedy I've seen in a while. Loads of screen-time is devoted to the seemingly minor character of Fuzzy (Thomas Middleditch- channeling Seth Cohen) a lovelorn supermarket cashier who takes Wren’s little brother along on his quest to get even with the MMA fighter (a toned-down Johnny Knoxville- decked out as Dog The Bounty Hunter) who stole his girlfriend.
As if that wasn’t enough- there’s also a whole chunk of the film devoted to Wren’s mother- played by Chelsea Handler (funny on her talk-show, not so much in movies), who’s coping with being recently widowed by taking up with much younger men (with one-obnoxiously named Keeven, played by Josh Pense of THE SOCIAL NETWORK). All together, this pads out the film way more than it should have. The focus should have stayed on Justice and Levy- but it seems like all involved ran out of goofy, PG-13 shenanigans, leaving Justice to feel like a co-star in her own movie. There’s also a side-plot involving her love-lorn pal Roosevelt, which is right out of the teen movie handbook, and makes this even more predictable than it already is.
But- while it’s flabby and certainly not for my demographic, I will admit that FUN SIZE wasn’t altogether atrocious. At the very least, it didn’t take all that much effort to sit through, which is saying something. When these teen films go bad, they go bad . This one- not so bad, just mediocre and a tad sloppy.