Directed by Josh Schwartz. Starring Victoria Justice, Jane Levy, Thomas McDonell, Chelsea Handler, Johnny Knoxville, Abby Elliott 12A cert, general release, 90 min
WHAT’S THIS Carly Rae Jepsen promo doing here? Fun Size starts as it means to go on: by selling mindless drivel to little girls.
This erratic reworking of Adventures in Babysitting, a supposed big-screen transition for popular Nickleodeon moppet Victoria Justice (the likable star of Zooey 101 and Victorious), really wants to hang with the bigger kids. The second film (following Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging) to emerge with a restricted rating from Nickleodeon’s movie imprint is populated by “edgier” types Chelsea Handler, Johnny Knoxville, SNL’s Abby Elliott and the US Shameless’ Jane Levy and nudges toward jokes about paedophilia.
The grown-up gags and language – including “bitch” in the “hey you” sense – sit uneasily in a film that, in every other respect, is a ’tween TV special. The plot (college-bound girl loses weird kid brother on Halloween night; must choose between gold-hearted nerd and curly-haired heartthrob) is tried and tested. But the execution is so small-screen and root-bound awkward it’s like watching The Nine O’Clock News in the cinema.
As with all television aimed at Bratz owners, Fun Size forms a subnormal Greek chorus in which everybody onscreen outlines their character, purpose and (not quite) GPS co-ordinates for 90 minutes. In case you didn’t catch it the first 100 times: “If I don’t find my little brother my mom’s gonna kill me”; “But I’m your best friend”; “But Aaron Riley will be there”.
Who exactly is this film for? Debuting director Josh Schwartz, former writer on Hart of Dixie, doesn’t seem to know. Are Ms Justice’s fans going to buy the Passion Pit tracks playing over the Miserable Walk Sequences? Will the Jackass faithful be seen dead near a movie for little girls?
The demographics are significantly less confused than the tone. Jackson Nichol, playing the movie’s missing tyke, turns in lovely, creepy Harpo Marx tragicomedy when everyone else is throwing lavatory paper and wearing stupid wigs. Snarky lines – “Mom thinks dating a 26-year-old is one of the seven stages of grief” – are soon punctured by “zany” antics. And here comes the dry-humping.
We can think of at least one thing that’s wrong with that title.