The only thing more clichéd than young ladies dressing ultra-sexy for Halloween are jokes about young ladies dressing ultra-sexy for Halloween -- and unfortunately for Fun Size, the latest PG-13 venture directed by The OC/Chuck/Gossip Girl mastermind Josh Schwartz, there's a new joke about how girls sure like wearing tight costumes every other scene. There is also a strange amount of gags about pedophiles, lots of horribly obvious product placement, several instances of 18-year-old girls existing only as sex objects and... Johnny Knoxville getting blown up by fireworks. You're not exactly going to see Seth and Summer 2.0 anytime soon, is what I'm trying to say. (Though there is a character dressed as Spiderman for 90 percent of the film.)
It's a shame, too, because Fun Size has a pretty brilliant and largely untapped premise... no, not the whole girl (Wren, played by cornflake Victoria Justice) loses her little brother (Aaron, the silent Jackson Nicoll) while she's supposed to be babysitting him thing, but rather, the idea of having a comedy set with the backdrop of Halloween. There are all kinds of scary movies to revisit this time of year, but in terms of live-action films to enjoy for those of us who prefer the fun parts of the holiday over the spooky ones, we're reduced to the Disney's Halloweentown tetralogy (though real fans know the first two are the only ones worth watching) and 1993's Hocus Pocus. What's stopping Judd Apatow from sticking a few of his players in costumes and having them do their thing on October 31st? I really don't understand. (On the bright side, someone was smart enough to make a highly promising Spring Break themed film, so there's that.)
In a tween-oriented film, I'm not expecting a terribly original plot, and there's always some nostalgia when a new movie comes out where difficult babysitting is juxtaposed with a young person trying to get to their crush's party without incident -- and in that regard, Fun Size gets from Point A to Point B with your standard unlikely pratfalls and zany characters, though none of them are particularly clever. Even worse is that on the way there, the lazily-written major players like Wren's best friend April (played by Suburgatory's Jane Levy, who does her best with the terrible material she's given) and her widowed mom Joy (Chelsea Handler, acting the part of "Sad Mom") demonstrate just how weak the script (written by Colbert Report veteran Max Werner) really is. Fun Size clearly struggles with its PG-13 rating, what with unnecessary sexist and profane humor for the sake of cheap laughs (if you can call them that) while a few funny and surprising small details shoehorned in are still probably too on-the-nose for the adults in the audience. If it's between that and watching Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy terrorize some punk teenagers, the choice is obvious.
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