Fun Size is the latest entry in a long distinguished line of Halloween-themed teen comedy films, this one coming from Nickelodeon, also trying out a PG-13 rating for the first time in America. The film is director Josh Schwartz’ feature debut, having previously created the television hits The O.C. and Gossip Girl. Schwartz’ small screen pedigree is on full display in this jaunty trick-o-treat romp, and while his style and expertise fit the material, there’s precious little here that belongs on the big screen.
The story is a straightforward one, in which our leading popular/smart girl Wren (Victoria Justice) finds herself invited to a Halloween party thrown by the dreamy rock god Aaron Riley (Thomas McDonell). But instead of casting doe eyes at the cute crooner she gets stuck taking her younger brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll) trick-or-treating. Trickster that he is, Albert disappears, causing Wren to enlist the help of her saucy best friend April (Suburgatory‘s Jane Levy), and two lovestruck nerds Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau) to find the missing tyke. The subplot of Wren’s mother Joy (Chelsea Handler) attending a party with her 26-year-old boyfriend Keevin (not a typo) has its moments. While cliché, Handler has the skill to play up the familiar scenario to the audience’s delight and she actually gives the character some depth, rather than settling for a stand-up sketch come to life.
As I was watching Fun Size I couldn’t help but wonder what a fantastic Halloween TV special it would have made on the Nickelodeon network. The teen leads, in particular Mann and Chau, are endearingly goofy and help keep the laughs at a somewhat respectable frequency. There isn’t a lot of material to keep the film up to pace with other comparable comedies, which merely enhances the whole project’s TV feel. Instead of Wren’s all-too-typical teen romance, I would have rather the entire focus be on the adventures had by Albert in his pudgy Spider-Man costume and custom amputated arm. His scenes are some of the best in the film, and the filmmakers definitely agree, giving him ample time to run amok. Additionally, given some of the material in the film, I am not sure who the intended audience is supposed to be. There is enough alcohol and PG-13 language to not be ideal for younger kids, while older kids and adults may chafe at some of the more juvenile humor.
While Fun Size is definitely a vehicle for Nickelodeon regular Victoria Justice, the supporting cast is much more memorable. It’s a fun movie to check out when it inevitably ends up on TV, but it isn’t anything special enough to warrant a trip to the local multiplex, especially with so many other worthwhile options this time of year.
Fun Size is now playing in Philly-area theaters.