Review: 'Fun size'
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Saturday, October 27, 2012
10/27/12 at 8:09 AM
Watching Nickelodeon's "Victorious" star Victoria Justice spend her Halloween teen-comedy "Fun Size" dressed up as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz," I couldn't help but think that her movie always has its heart in the right place, but I sure wish it had more courage and brains.
Justice is a lovely and talented girl with solid comedic timing, as well as singing skills (but none on display here) that my kids can't get enough of on the cable show.
But "Fun Size" is hardly the film equivalent of her program; rather, it is Nickelodeon Movies' first PG-13 movie. The result that most tween viewers will notice: a movie that is longer, slower, less funny without a laugh track and proud of its profanity.
The failure of this occasionally affecting but wildly uneven picture is in its contrast of styles between screenwriter Max Werner, a veteran writer of more than 50 episodes of "The Colbert Report," and director Josh Schwartz, the producer of "Gossip Girl" who makes his feature debut here.
Werner has written a script that is often smart in its theme about a family struggling with the memory of the kids' dad who died. This provides some substance to the larger and more cliched plot device of a teen girl desperate to attend the cool-kids Halloween party and who must decide between the hot guy with the hot car or the nerd with the car stereo stuck on an Andrea Bocelli CD.
That is smart and funny, and so are jokes about Aaron Burr and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which make their way into the dialogue, but Schwartz does all he can to alter the tone and dumb down the flick from the page to the screen.
Wren (Justice) - stuck trick-or-treating with her little brother while her mom (Chelsea Handler) attends a party - must find the missing tyke dressed as Spider-Man, as well as attend the party, and return home before their mischief is discovered.
Schwartz's decision is to have Justice play her role soft-spoken amid all the comedic chaos created by several supporting characters. Any of her lines with even a hint of humor are delivered in such a deadpan manner that it's as if she's appearing in another film.
Apparently his thought is that to be serious is to dial down Justice's energy level. Look, she's a serious actress! What she looks like is someone in need of a sugar-rush by dipping her hand into her Halloween candy.
Wren remains remarkably calm when the nerdy guy's car knocks a fast-food place's giant plastic chicken onto the trunk, leaving it humping the rear bumper. That's not normal.
The chicken place isn't even where the "breast" scene happens that will make parents wish they hadn't brought along a 7-year-old for the movie; that scene involves Jane Levy, the "Suburgatory" sitcom star who's 22 but looks 30 and who plays Wren's wacky red-headed teen sidekick.
"Fun Size" employs much of the same absurdist comedy that makes up Nickelodeon's roster of shows, but the company can't follow that exact formula for a PG-13 picture. Trying to do so results in growing pains.
Victoria Justice, Johnny
Knoxville, Chelsea Handler
20, Cinemark Tulsa, Cinemark
Broken Arrow, Starworld 20,
RiverWalk, Owasso, Eton Square,
Sand Springs, Moviestar Cinema,
Admiral Twin Drive-in
1 hour, 25 minutes
PG-13 (crude and suggestive
material, partying and
(on a scale of zero to
Original Print Headline: 'Fun size' is lacking in fun
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
Victoria Justice (left) plays Wren and Jane Levy plays her wacky sidekick in "Fun Size." Courtesy