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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Fun Size

February 18th, 2013

Fun Size - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Fun Size is a live action kids movie with a female star. These tend to struggle at the box office. This one was no exception. Despite opening right before Halloween and having a Halloween theme, the film bombed really hard. It opened well below the Mendoza Line and is one of the weakest openings for a saturation level release of all time. Is the film as bad as its box office performance? Or does it deserve to find a wider audience on the home market?

The Movie

We are first introduced to Wren Desantis, she tells us about her family life, which has gotten weird since her father passed away. Her little brother, Albert, has started acting up and stopped talking. Her mother, Joy, has had a mid-life crisis and is dating a 26-year old named Kevin. Long term, Wren wants to go to NYU, but she will need student loans to do that, and getting her mom to sign the application has been a problem. Her mother wants Wren to go to college closer to home.

Short term, Wren and her friend, April, want to go to Aaron Riley's big Halloween party. April thinks they need to dress sexy to get in, so she's going as a sexy kitten. Wren, on the other hand, is thinking about dressing as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She's even thinking of doing a rap to explain who she is. On a side note, a lot of these movies have problems explaining why beautiful high school girls are not part of the in crowd. Rapping about supreme court justices, or the father of sociobiology will do that. Speaking of the father of sociobiology, her other friend, Roosevelt, is planning on dressing up as E.O. Wilson, making him even nerdier than she is.

Fortunately, this nerdiness isn't a problem for Aaron and he invites Wren to her party. Unfortunately, her mother is also going to a party, and Wren will need to take Albert trick or treating, so she can't go to the party. To make matters worse, Albert acts up even more than usual, including stealing candy. This culminates with him sneaking away from Wren while they check out a haunted house. This of course sends Wren into a terrible panic and she and April begin looking for her. They eventually meet up with Roosevelt and his friend, Peng, and get them to help look. (Roosevelt can borrow his parents car.)

Meanwhile, Albert hangs out at the local convenience store when a clerk there, Fuzzy sees him all by himself and doesn't want to leave a little kid unsupervised, so he recruits Albert to pull pranks on his ex-girlfriend, Lara, and Lara's new boyfriend, J├╝rgen. Hijinks ensue.

Fun Size starts with a pretty big strike against it. It's basic plot involves a missing child, which is close to the top of any parents list of worst nightmares. The filmmakers understand this is an issue and they address it a few times, but somehow this makes it worse. It would have been better just to pretend the film takes place in an alternate universe where a seven-year old alone in a city isn't going to fall victim to a child molester. In this regard, the film reminds me of Wild Wild West. In that movie, Will Smith played James West in a time when an African-American lawman would have been rare and in some places would have gotten lynched. They could have just pretended that wasn't an issue, but by bringing it up again and again, it made the situation uncomfortable.

That said, this wouldn't be a deal-breaker if the film was genuinely and constantly funny, but it's not. There are parts that work, including Victoria Justice, who does a good job with a rather limited character, and Jane Levy, who is the best part of the film as the best friend. I think both actors will be able to do more than TV roles. There are a few gags that hit their mark and a few heart-warming moments that add something to the film. However, for the most part, the film seems like what would be a passable Nickelodeon TV movie trying too hard to be a theatrical release aiming for a slightly older audience. Perhaps it would have been better if the film was a TV movie, or indeed a two-part episode of Victorious (Tori could have been forced to babysit a record producer's obnoxious kid.) Or perhaps the film would have been better going further and being raunchier, thus aiming for an older demographic, like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. By trying to fit the No man's land in-between it won't truly please either audience.

Then again, Fun Size isn't the worst film in its sub-genre. It is far better than films like Bratz was, but it is far weaker than films like Ramona and Beezus was. If you are in the target demographic, it will hold your attention, but that's not really an enthusiastic recommendation.

The Extras

Extras include a making of featurette, behind-the-scenes with Jackson Nicoll, four deleted scenes, outtakes, a music video, and a making of for the music video. That's enough to not be devoid of extras, but it is certainly not a loaded disc either.

The technical presentation is good. It's not an expensive movie, nor is it a visually impressive film, but there are solid detail levels, strong colors, deep blacks, plus there are no compression issues, digital artifacts, etc. Likewise, the audio is solid with clear dialogue, but it is also an uncomplicated track. There are a few scenes where the surround sound speakers at least have some chance to shine, but for the most part it is a front-and-center track.

The Blu-ray costs $5 or 33% more than the DVD, which is acceptable, but not a good deal.

The Verdict

If you are in the target audience for Fun Size then the DVD or the Blu-ray is worth a rental, but that's as far as I'm willing to go.

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Filed under: Video Review, Fun Size , Will Smith, Victoria Justice, Johnny Knoxville, Chelsea Handler, Thomas McDonell, Thomas Mann, Josh Pence, Thomas Middleditch, Jane Levy, Jackson Nicoll, Orisc Chau, Abby Elliott