Thursday 14 December 2017

Film Review: Fun Size - A Hallowe'en high school farce to forget

(12A, general release, 90 minutes)

Paul Whitington

Josh Schwartz is something of a TV wunderkind, having created hit drama The O.C. at the tender age of 26, and followed it up with Gossip Girl.

Crucially, though, it was as a writer that Schwartz made his name; this teen comedy marks his debut as a director, and is nothing to write home about.

In fact, it's principally in the script department that Fun Size fails, and Schwartz might have been better advised to roll up his sleeves and write the blessed thing himself.

Victoria Justice, in any case, is Wren, a beautiful but rather awkward high school senior who has big plans for Hallowe'en.

Class hunk Aaron (Thomas McDonell) is throwing a party, and Wren and her best friend April (Jane Levy) are hoping to go along. In their way stands Wren's mom, Joy (Chelsea Handler), who's in the midst of a mid-life crisis.

Wren's father died the previous year, and Joy is in deep denial and currently dating a 27-year-old twit. As a consequence, she has Hallowe'en plans of her own, which means Wren will have to babysit her mischief-prone little brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll).

Wren has a crush on Aaron, while shy classmate Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) fancies her.

While they're all ironing out the finer points of this love triangle, little Albert goes missing while on the hunt for Hallowe'en chocolate.

Thereafter Fun Size mixes romance and low farce with the desperate search for a little boy who's dressed as Spider-Man and in the mood for picking fights.

Written by Max Werner, the film's premise is slender enough to begin with but is further hamstrung by bad jokes and criminally lazy dialogue.

At one point, when Wren and April are fighting, one says to the other "stop -- you're getting your nerd juice all over me".

Now, surely it would have been possible to come up with something snappier than that.

The jokes it does manage to pull off wear pretty thin after a while, and though the young cast do well enough, they're given precious little to work with, and only Chelsea Handler manages to intermittently amuse.

The thing that really offended me about this film, though, was not the script or the performances but the fact that Wren's dad -- who died at a tragically young age of course -- was born in the same year as me.

Director: Josh Schwartz Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Chelsea Handler, Jane Levy, Victoria Justice, Thomas McDonell

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