Fun Size not so much fun at all

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

TER­RI­FY­ING Hal­loween prank star­ring Vic­to­ria Jus­tice of the Nick­elodeon brat-com Victorious, Fun Size con­cerns a Cleve­land high school se­nior who mis­places her pre­teen brother on trick-or-treat night.

One too many jokey ref­er­ences to child mo­lesta­tion en­sue. You should know this go­ing in.

The film, it­self a Nick­elodeon prod­uct, is out to en­snare ev­ery pre­teen paying cus­tomer it can find. But it’s a soul-crusher, per­haps even the most de­hu­man­is­ing ex­pe­ri­ence since Hos­tel: Part II.

Dressed as Spi­der-Man, young Al­bert (Jack­son Ni­coll) gets lost. High school se­nior Wren (Jus­tice) and her al­leged best friend (Jane Levy) must re­vise their plans to go to the cool kids party and em­bark on a weirdly blase boy-hunt for the miss­ing Al­bert.

The nar­ra­tive shape of Fun Size re­calls the one-crazynight come­dies Ad­ven­tures in Babysit­ting and Nick & Nora’s In­fi­nite Playlist. Have you ever seen Nick & Nora? It’s good. It’s noth­ing like this film.

Nick & Nora deals with young love and a quasi­dan­ger­ous ad­ven­ture while avoid­ing send­ing a mil­lion mixed or neg­a­tive mes­sages about high school cliques and awk­wardly bud­ding sex­u­al­ity.

Here, by con­trast, the ram­pant snark and wit­less mean­ness serve to erode an av­er­agely in­se­cure teen’s self-es­teem, while pin­ning its comic hopes on sight gags such as a gi­ant fast-food restau­rant rooster sim­u­lat­ing in­ter­course with a car. And Chelsea Han­dler plays a ma­jor sup­port­ing role. This movie has ev­ery­thing.

Jus­tice, who may well be a tal­ented ac­tress un­der­neath the at­ti­tu­di­nal poses, favours a de­fault line read­ing of huffy, dis­lik­able sar­casm. Imag­ine that sort of de­liv­ery for 78 min­utes – not long by fea­ture film stan­dards, but Fun Size makes it seem like a life­time.

When the brother (who does not speak, by grief­stricken choice since the death of his fa­ther) is scooped up by a lonely con­ve­nience mart em­ployee and ul­ti­mately kid­napped by a skeeze played by Johnny Knoxville, you can only think: Wha? Huh?

Play this stuff for com­edy, play it for sus­pense, play it any way you like, but it does not play.

The di­rec­tor is Josh Schwartz of the TV se­ries The O.C. and Gossip Girl, work­ing from a script by Max Werner, a long­time writer – as­ton­ish­ingly, given what passes for punch lines and pay­offs in Fun Size – on The Col­bert Report. I don’t know for whom the hell this bell tolls. Maybe it’ll toll for thee, or thine Nick­elodeon-fed off­spring, but I doubt it.

opens to­day.

Thomas Mann and Vic­to­ria Jus­tice in

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