Tag Archives: 2005

Film Geek (2005)

The cover of “Film Geek,” as you may notice, proclaims “This year’s Napoleon Dynamite!” Depending on your tolerance for the “quirky nerd” shtick, this may entice you or make you run the other way. Comparisons to “Napoleon Dynamite” aside, “Film Geek” is more human, lower budget, and with a melancholy edge. Unlike Napoleon, who had a small group of friends orbiting his planet of nerddom, This movie’s protagonist, Scotty Pelk (Melik Malikson), repels practically everyone he comes in contact with.

Scotty is a twenty-something young man with no life to speak of, who spends his time inadvertently harassing people at the video store where he works. If they aren’t driven off by his voice (which sounds like he’s been inhaling helium) or his generally aggravating demeanor, it’s probably the fact that he relentlessly badgers people with his knowledge of movies. He has so much trivia it might put half the “Film Threat” reviewers to shame.

Scotty appears to be clueless about his effect on others, although they often aren’t exactly subtle about their disdain for him. He could quite possibly be diagnosed with Asperger’s, but then viewers with Asperger’s and their friends may be angered. He is so intensely annoying, in fact, that his boss finally takes him aside and tells him that his “expertise might be better appreciated elsewhere.”

Unable to get any other film-related jobs, Scotty starts working at a car parts factory. It is around this time that he meets Nika, a free-spirited artist who is first seen by him reading a book on the films of David Cronenberg. Scotty decides that Nika is his chance for a romantic relationship, but she is, understandably, not so sure. As they go to events and she encourages him to “expand his horizons,” this odd semi-dating status is invaded by Nika’s obnoxious, egotistical, but less geeky ex-boyfriend.

Scotty is such a sad individual that he most likely will be either hated or pitied — in my case, pitied. Spurting movie jargon and attempting to relate to other people, he is a far cry from Napoleon, who spent most of his film acting purposefully gawky and being a self-satisfied object of laughter, less capable of normal human response. So, by saying that I sympathized with the loser, does this mean I recommend the film?

Not really. Despite their differences, “Film Geek” and “Napoleon Dynamite” have the same pitfall. They’re not funny. Sure, they’re quirky, but watching a oddball, nerdy person live his isolated life and act like an uber-dork is not the same, for me at least, as being entertained. In this case, you feel more uncomfortable then amused. Even though “Film Geek” slightly overcomes this by being almost thought-provoking in its presentation, I found myself becoming distracted and concentrating on the many movies in the background. “Is that Todd Solondz’s “Happiness” over there?”

You might like “Film Geek.” You might hate it. If you like the “nerd” genre and find the general tone of oddities such as “Napoleon Dynamite” to be amusing, go for it. This is not bad, like another more low-budget “Imagination,” just sort of pointless.

Zathura (2005)

The first part of this film is the sad story of how divorced Dad Tim Robbins copes with his three bratty kids (He does commendably, better than I would.) The second part disposes of Robbins and takes a turn into pure ridiculousness, as his two sons Walter and Danny (played sloppily by Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo) play a mysterious board game with magical properties (a la “Jumanji”), which proves to have unforeseen consequences.

The acting, save for Robbins’, is really bad, not only from Hutcherson and Bobo but also from Kristen Stewart, who plays the completely useless, gape-mouthed character of the boys’ older sister, and Dax Shepard as the astronaut who lands on their doorstep when — surprise! — the board game sends the little losers into deep space. The script is not much better, providing entertainment that is mediocre at best for anyone over the age of twelve.

Worse is the unlikablity of the characters, particularly Walter (Josh Hutcherson), a vile little twit who has a thoroughly unconvincing road to Damascus halfway through, becoming a better brother to little Danny. Only slightly better than Walter is Danny himself, annoyingly whiny and obnoxious.

Stewart fails to provide steady support as Lisa, while Shepard reads his lines like a man reading the instructions on a container of boxed macaroni and cheese. A twist occurs in the last act that proves to be moderately interesting, if underwhelming, but by that point it is too late to care.

My younger sister (age nine) liked this, though even she had to admit that the acting was pretty piss-poor. Maybe your younger kids will like this too, even the older ones if they lower their standards enough. But this is not imbued with family magic like “Up,” “Tangled,” or “Spirited Away,” and in this writer’s opinion is only worth watching if all your other DVDs are suddenly destroyed in a fire or sucked into a black hole. Avoid.