Fun Size review

In spite of its pedigree, teen-friendly Halloween comedy Fun Size is more miss than hit, Caroline writes...

For those acquainted with Josh Schwartz’s television work (most notably The O.C., Gossip Girl, and Chuck), the prospect of a teen-friendly Halloween comedy might seem an exciting and intriguing one. Fun Size‘s trailer looked pretty good, too, if a little skewed towards the younger demographic, but it turns out that two-and-a-half minutes captured the idea and its potential better than a 90-minute movie can.

Fun Size is disappointing all the way through – infuriating at certain points, but sweet and snarky at others. It’s a mish-mash of good ideas and bad execution fighting it out, and the film comes off just a bit little odd as a result.

This is Schwartz’s feature debut, and also Nickelodeon’s first 12A production. Starring Victoria Justice (Victorious), Jane Levy (Suburgatory), Thomas Mann (Project X), and Osric Chau (Kevin in the current season of Supernatural), Fun Size is about four friends on the hunt for Wren’s (Justice) little brother on Halloween night. the film certainly has its teen-friendly star quota down. But there’s also Chelsea Handler as Wren’s mother, and Johnny Knoxville in an uncredited cartoon villain role, presumably aiming for recognition from an older crowd. The film sees the four teens search high and low for little Albert (Jackson Nicoll), who they must return before his mother finds the house empty.

Hilarity and hijinks ensue throughout the night, and the prospect of a missing child is never offered the gravity it might deserve. Paedophile gags and the repeated kidnapping of a mute eight-year-old child are glossed over in a steadfastly light-hearted way, as if the film is determined to bring the risqué humour but unwilling to properly follow it up. Most of the jokes in Fun Size just hang there with no helpful context or recurrence, and it thus reads like an unfinished draft of a film rather than a slick production from people who’ve made careers out of working with similar material.

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As lovely and capable as Victoria Justice is, Wren isn’t really the star here. Serving as the figure around which everyone else orbits, our eyes are drawn more to the brilliant collection of supporting characters on show. Jane Levy – who might to be the next big thing with a role in the forthcoming Evil Dead remake and a hit US show to call her own – shines the brightest as sarcastic best friend April, providing a vitally shallow perspective while she attempts to ensure social ascension in spite of the various crises plaguing the group. Mann again plays the nice guy caught up in situations much more exciting than he is, and Chau overcomes the ‘eccentric best friend’ clichés his character at first seems trapped in.

As already mentioned, Fun Size aims to be a comedy first and foremost, and does include some mild chuckles. They’re too few and far between, though, and some of the attempts at raunch or references to more risqué topics seem far too tame for the desired audience. This is the film’s big problem, since the film isn’t really suitable for young kids but seems far too juvenile for those older than the 12A certificate. It’s a massive missed opportunity, since the setup easily recalls better films like Superbad or teen capers of the same sort, but comes across much more like the kid-friendly Home Alone. The tone is all over the place, too, with surreal comedy mixed with schmaltzy emotion with little space or warning between.

Fun Size is a big disappointment for fans of Schwartz, fans of the various well-loved stars, or those looking for a holiday-themed comedy to permeate the sub-par horrors we get at this time of year. With the wealth of talent involved it really should have been better, but doesn’t hit the right notes with its comedy elements or its teen-friendly stab at zany adventure. Anyone outside of the core group of characters seems to belong in a Nick Jr show, and that might have been where Fun Size would have found its niche. It’s interesting to see them try to target an older audience, but will probably end up pleasing no one at all. 

Fun Size is out now.

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2 out of 5