There is a lot of nostalgia held in old Nickelodeon films from our generation. Anyone around the age of 22 and under can clearly remember watching films such as Good Burger and Snow Day as a child, and it’s because of these memories that we fondly hold onto the television we grew up with. Many of my peers believe we grew up in the golden age of children’s cartoons, and although I partly agree, that’s an argument for a different time.
What is relevant is the fact that the networks have grown just as we have, aiming their entertainment at a whole new generation. Rather than producing shows like All That, Catdog, Doug, Kenan & Kel and countless others, many of the newer shows are tech obsessed, slightly narcissistic and just not as good. With the changing times comes a change to the films Nickelodeon chooses to make as well. And that’s where we find Fun Size.
Using a performance from Victoria Justice as the main draw for younger audiences, Fun Size tries to play as an homage to every teen comedy based around the concept of “one wild night bringing together a mixed group of friends.” Instead, it rehashes the more boring films of the genre and plays it too safe to be worth anyone’s time.
Wren (Victoria Justice) is a normal, albeit extremely good looking and surprisingly plagued with guy troubles, high schooler who lives with her mother Joy (Chelsea Handler) and brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) after her father’s death years before. Tasked with taking her troublesome brother trick-or-treating Halloween night, she quickly loses him in the crowd, enlisting the help of best friend April (Jane Levy) and nerds Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau) to find him before her mother finds out he’s missing. As expected, nothing goes right and everybody has a wild night filled with changing hearts and the usual tropes.
The performances aren’t particularly awful in any way, but Fun Size just doesn’t have anything to say to justify its existence. Each of the main characters fits into their specific roles so familiarly that you can’t help but remember the better movies that this one is cobbled together from. Every misadventure that occurs can be seen from miles away, killing much of the humor that could have been better.
That’s right, Fun Size isn’t completely awful. In fact, there were a few parts that made me laugh more then I expected to. These are the most frustrating parts of the movie, because there are glimpses of originality and wit hidden within the disappointing bits. Roosevelt’s moms (Ana Gasteyer and Kerri Kenney) provide most of the laughs, as do their asthmatic cat. Store clerk Fuzzy (Thomas Middleditch) is also quite funny, if only for his relationship with Albert.
Although there is some humor found throughout Fun Size, a lot of it is from how unbelievably creepy parts are. Fuzzy’s time with Albert is semi-pedophilic, leading him to even joke about how he’s totally not taking this lost child from a store parking to go TP his exes apartment. The final run-in with some random creepy guy (Johnny Knoxville) gets way out of hand, leading to him kidnapping Albert for no reason other than to create a villain.
Joy also receives an award for “Worst Mother of the Year” because she doesn’t give any craps about her children. She spends her night at a party in some guy’s parents’ basement, and when she comes home to find her kids missing, promptly does nothing. Why should we care if Wren finds Albert if their mother can’t be bothered to care either? The death of their father is just a sloppy plot point that gets brought up for all of the worst reasons, trying to wring a tear or two out of a movie that’s already a crying shame.
The fact that this is a PG-13 Nickelodeon film still confuses me. A lot of the film deals with partying, evading police, touching boobs and every other teen activity that happens on a daily basis. However, Fun Size can’t find its identity, providing terrible jokes aimed at the young ones and then turning around and having a giant chicken hump a car into submission. I’m not a prude, and anyone over the age of 12 would be fine with this movie. It just seems that the movie is marketed to a crowd much younger than the demographic that would actually enjoy it.
But hey, it’s nothing kids haven’t already seen, and it’s tame enough that nobody will be harmed by it. Perhaps that is Fun Size‘s biggest downfall: it’s lack of desire to push the envelope. It seems content to just sit back and be mediocre, never tapping its potential. The Halloween theme will surely limit appeal to about a week after release before it drops off the Earth, relegated to Nick at Night showings and not much else. Just like its namesake, Fun Size is a small amount of mediocrity that won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, but definitely won’t satisfy many viewers.