I’m not quite sure what to make of Fun Size. There’s lots of precedent for a story about a long night of mishaps — Adventures in Babysitting leaps to mind — and a lost kid on Halloween seems like a can’t-miss premise. Unfortunately, the execution by first-time director Josh Schwartz and Colbert Report writer Max Werner leaves much to be desired.
The DeSantis family lives in Cleveland, and Wren (Victoria Justice) wants out. Her father died recently, and nobody’s taking it well. Her little brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll), has gone mute, which hasn’t made him any less annoying, while her mother, Joy (Chelsea Handler), has started dating a much younger man with some absurd name. Wren just wants to go off to college at her father’s alma mater, NYU.
Wren is a studious girl; not a social outcast, but being on speaking terms with the likes of Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) puts her on the periphery of social acceptability, much to the chagrin of her friend, April (Jane Levy). Somehow she stumbles into an invitation to the Halloween party thrown by Aaron Riley — adoring sigh — which sends April over the moon.
A monkey wrench is thrown into their plans when Joy saddles Wren with Albert’s trick-or-treating while she goes off to a party thrown by her boy-toy’s friends. Bad goes to worse when Albert goes missing. Wren and April enlist the aid of Roosevelt and his friend, Peng (Osric Chau), to find him, but he is quickly off on his own quest with a quirky, awkward, broken-hearted convenience store clerk named Fuzzy (Thomas Middleditch).
There seem to be a couple subplots too many, especially for a relatively short movie, but Schwartz does manage to keep all the balls in the air. Unfortunately the tone is all over the place, and it only works about half the time. Roosevelt’s moms (Kerri Kenney-Silver and Ana Gasteyer) work where they could easily have slipped into offensive territory, but Joy’s run-in with her party’s hosts parents (Holmes Osborne and Annie Fitzpatrick) makes for a particularly off-note, despite playing to Handler’s strengths.
Worse, though, is that the movie doesn’t really seem to know what its target audience is. Albert’s slapstick comes off like scenes from Home Alone, but then the fast food chain’s animatronic pirate chicken mascot lands on Roosevelt’s Volvo and, well, they blow that gag in the trailer. And the price Peng exacts on April for her cooperation is the sort of thing John Hughes would hint around, but would have the good sense not to take as far as Schwartz does.
I get that Fun Size is PG-13, and it’s probably a fair rating, but a lot of the sensibility is more madcap PG that’s been artificially — and glaringly — bumped up and peppered with language that doesn’t really add much to the story beyond discomforting parents who may have expected tamer fare. On the other hand, the script is toned down considerably from Superbad, its closest precursor — maybe “Supernaughty“? Still, it may have gone better to pick one side and embrace it.
Worth It: no.
Bechdel Test: it does squeak out a pass.