By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — The Halloween-themed teen comedy "Fun Size" (Paramount) offers some enjoyable humor and a pleasingly innocent central romance based on interior virtues rather than mere physical attraction.
But these melodious qualities are drowned out, in director Josh Schwartz’s film, by discordant notes that bar endorsement for the targeted age group.
Slightly nerdy Cleveland high school senior Wren (Victoria Justice) anticipates the time of her life when she and her best friend, April (Jane Levy), manage to get themselves invited to the big costume party being thrown by popular jock Aaron (Thomas McDonell). Handsome Aaron is, of course, the man of Wren’s dreams, though she may have to take a number where that’s concerned.
Parents being what they are, however, Wren’s widowed mom, Joy (Chelsea Handler), messes everything up at the last moment by forcing Wren to take her mischievous 8-year-old brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll), trick-or-treating. And things go from bad to worse when the two siblings accidentally become separated.
Wren turns to two geeky schoolmates, Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau), to help find the missing lad. (For all his awkwardness, Roosevelt, it seems, owns a car.) Together with April — who has proven her loyalty to Wren by accompanying her while she babysits Albert — they set off on the search. But their odyssey soon descends into farce.
There are some legitimate laughs to be had along the way, especially thanks to Thomas Middleditch in the role of Fuzzy, a slacker store clerk who crosses paths with, and befriends, errant Albert. But a stop at Roosevelt’s house to get the car reveals that he — like Heather — has two mommies. Though Roosevelt’s traveling companions are momentarily taken aback, there’s swift and genial acceptance of the situation by all concerned.
Treated with equal good humor, in screenwriter Max Werner’s script, is a climactic — though off-screen — encounter between two of its more prominent characters. We’re meant to be amused when the unlikely pair wakes up together the morning after Halloween, despite the fact that, being Wren’s contemporaries, they may well still be minors.
Some ambiguity is applied to the scene — they’re fully clothed and have slept on a couch. But whatever has gone on that seems to have left them all smiles, we’d suggest they’re not yet the size — or in the proper estate — for that kind of fun.
The film contains a frivolous treatment of homosexuality, adult cohabitation, implied nonmarital — and possibly underage — sexual activity, obscured rear and partial nudity, some sexual and scatological humor, at least one use of profanity, and a few crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.