The new comedy “Fun Size” may tell us something about what Hollywood producers (Nickelodeon Movies, in this case) think are the differences between male and female movie tastes. You see, “Fun Size” is “Superbad” for junior high girls.
It begins with a full-length music video of a young woman (who may be Victoria Justice) doing a pop song called “The Kiss.” This isn’t an ad or any of the sort of conventional forematter one sees if one arrives early for a movie showing—this is more like a cartoon, added to fill out a short program.
Ironically, later in the movie our heroes triumph over the modestly evil and completely un-billed Johnny Knoxville to the tune of the Beastie Boys’ “You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party,” a song that will appeal to males and which is associated in the movie with the dead father of Wren and mute Albert. “Your mom busted in and said, ‘What’s that noise?’/Aw ma you’re just jealous, it’s the Beastie Boys.”
In “Fun Size,” this song doesn’t get played at a high volume. No, we wouldn’t want to awaken our slumbering angels, would we?
The story is set on Halloween. Wren (Disney Channel actress Victoria Justice) lives in Cleveland but wants to attend her father’s alma mater, NYU. Her pudgy eight-year-old brother Albert has already put distance between himself and father-less reality by refusing to speak. Their Mother (cable t.v. talker Chelsea Handler) has started dating a much younger man.
While Ma is at a costume party with her boy toy, Wren is responsible for watching the tricky Albert, who is dressed (like many others) as Spiderman. Wren’s pal April wants to get to a party thrown by the heart-throb of the high school, a kid who seems to have an interest in Wren.
At this point the story splits into three tracks, and we cut back and forth between them. One story is about Ma becoming disillusioned with her beau. One is about Albert’s adventures befriending a convenience store clerk Fuzzy (played by Thomas Middleditch, in a notable turn) who sets out to get revenge on a romantic rival (Knoxville). Eventually the firecracker-packing Albert is captured by the rival, who phones Wren, demanding a ransom.
Wren has spent the picture searching for Albert in the way the kids in “American Graffiti” search for young Suzanne Sommers. She convinces Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and his nerdy sideman to drive her and April around looking for the little boy. Usually the coarse stuff in the movie is associated with Albert—there is a convention for pretending ugly things said or done by the young or the aged are always funny. But somehow Roosevelt manages to get a big chicken-shaped pole sign to fall right behind his Volvo and to move as if it were violating the Swedish car.
Eventually the four teens make it to the party. Heart-throb begins to warble a song of love to Wren, but she finds herself thinking—big surprise—of Roosevelt. In a few minutes he will confess his lover for her to his two domestically hippy-dippy mothers. Will Fuzzy realize he could ask out Galaxy Scout (busy Riki Lindhome)? What do you think?
“Fun Size” is good-natured rather than funny. It would be funny, I suppose, if it were surprising. But the only thing surprising about the story is that it has so many developments, so many events in every ten minute stretch. This made it sort of fun to watch. Weakish. But sort of fun.
And after all, what is it that girls want?