Fun Size is a trick-or-treat comedy aimed at tween girls. As such, the film's potential audience -- 11-15-year-old girls who are interested in seeing a Halloween comedy -- must be vanishingly small, but that's the marketing department's problem, not mine. My problem, as a viewer, is that the movie is a gaudy, simple-minded fiasco that's too dumb for adults and too suggestive for kids.
According to Wren (Victoria Justice), our 16-ish Midwestern heroine, "Everyone loves Halloween -- especially in Cleveland." That's two unverifiable claims right off the bat, but we'll roll with it. Wren and her friend April (Jane Levy), both "misfits" at school despite being attractive, sociable, and normal, hope to attend a Halloween party being thrown by the super-cool campus stud-muffin. But their plans are thwarted when Wren's cougar mom, Joy (Chelsea Handler) -- "cougar" is code here for "slutty" -- goes to a party with her too-young boyfriend, leaving Wren to take her monstrous little brother trick-or-treating.
The brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll), is a chubby li'l bastard with a penchant for mischief and trickery. He hasn't spoken a word since his and Wren's dad died a year ago, which at least spares us from whatever annoying things this character might have said otherwise. He gets lost while trick-or-treating, so Wren and April and Wren's platonic nerd friend Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Roosevelt's wingman, Peng (Osric Chau), spend the rest of the film frantically searching for him, getting into hijinks and shenanigans of their own along the way.
You will be interested to know that reluctant Peng's assistance in the matter is secured by April agreeing to let him touch her boob. The police are strangely unconcerned about the idea of a missing child, but that's probably only because April didn't sweeten the pot for them.
Though its premise makes it sound like a perfectly serviceable Adventures in Babysitting sort of thing, Fun Size is only sporadically funny. More often it's frenzied and slapsticky, as when a fast-food joint's giant rooftop chicken falls onto -- and begins to mechanically hump -- Roosevelt's car, or when a cat has an asthma attack from getting too close to April, who accidentally got Nair on her nether regions earlier. For the purposes of the gag, it would have been just as funny for April to have used Nair in the normal way; mentioning that it was her butthole makes it seem more desperate (BUTTS!! HA HA!!), not to mention less plausible.
Max Werner, the Colbert Report scribe who wrote the screenplay, told The Hollywood Reporter that his version was dirtier: "I think the way I originally wrote it, it would have been R mainly because of language and innuendo." The studio wanted it to be a mild PG-13 at the most, yet hired Josh Schwartz -- creator of TV's racy Gossip Girl and The O.C. -- to direct it.
With these opposite objectives in play, I hope no one at Paramount is surprised that the result is a bad mish-mash of kid-friendly humor, a plot aimed at tweens, and out-of-place grown-up jokes. Instead of committing to its raunchiness and going for an older teenage audience, the movie was diluted into something almost fit for kids but not quite, an uncomfortable and moronic mixture of the two worlds.
Fun Size opens in theaters across the U.S. on Friday, October 26.