Year 7, Day 304 - 10/31/15 - Movie #2,189
BEFORE: Now that the scary movies are out of the way, and the horror section of my list contains zero films, there's nothing left to do but hand out the candy. I bought four jumbo-sized bags a month ago, I just hope that I bought enough.
I taped this off cable to fill up the DVD with "Trick 'r Treat" and tomorrow's film. So sometimes I have to put two movies next to each other thematically, and hope that there's an actor link between them. And there is, Leslie Bibb from "Trick 'r Treat" was also in "Movie 43" with Johnny Knoxville (last seen in "The Dukes of Hazzard").
THE PLOT: A teen's Halloween plans go awry when she's made to babysit her brother, who disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. With her best friend and two nerds, she needs to find her brother before her mom finds out he's missing.
AFTER: This film raises one of those philosophical question, like "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "If a tree falls in a forest, and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Can you call something a comedy if it is not remotely funny? Jeez, it's not for lack of trying, someone tried really hard to make a funny film, but every joke or funny situation feels forced, or misguided in some way. And if I have to explain humor to someone, I just end up killing it. Maybe I'm just old and cynical, maybe there's a group of young kids out there somewhere who would find this funny, but I just don't know.
The intent was clearly to copy other films that depict nights that go horribly, horribly wrong - like "Date Night" or "Adventures in Babysitting", or any number of Christmas or Valentine's Day-themed comedies. But humor has to start somewhere real, and then produce something unexpected. Like, say, "Super Troopers", which probably started with an improv situation of a cop pulling someone over, and then devising ways to make that scene funny. The same people produced "Beerfest", which is also a funny film, but it suffers from a weak premise, since there are no real underground drinking competitions, at least I don't think so. Then they made "The Slammin' Salmon", a slightly less funny film with an impossible premise - customers just don't come in to restaurants, order a beverage, and then tip really really well - it just. doesn't. happen. And waiters don't compete for $10,000 cash prizes offered by their employers.
That's the common thread running through all of the gags in this film - there had to be a way to depict the potential chaos of Halloween night without constantly, consistently slipping into situations that would never, never happen. Just beyond farce and slapstick lies complete improbability - and I say this as someone who enjoys films with superheroes flying around, and people battling space aliens. But if you set your film on Halloween night in the real, practical universe, I'm going to be bothered by unlikely situations, apparently.
OK, I can believe that a teen girl might misplace her younger brother - a lot of kids might be wearing the same Spider-Man costume, for example. But why would she approach a (presumably) really short man and take his mask off, assuming that he's her brother? Even if he were a dwarf-sized man, he wouldn't have the same body type as her brother. (We'll never know, because they apparently couldn't afford a dwarf actor, they only shot the man from the neck up, ruining the joke.) Anyway, it doesn't even make sense, because her brother for some reason wanted to be "Spider-Man missing an arm" (which isn't even a thing), so why would she think that this two-armed, stocky man who looked nothing like her brother might have been him?
Her brother goes on his own Halloween adventure, with a lovelorn convenience-store clerk, then a woman dressed as "Galaxy Scout" going to a party, and then the tough-guy boyfriend of the clerk's ex-girlfriend. (Already, this situation is over-complicated.) But why would the convenience store clerk leave his post, on the busiest candy-buying night of the year, no less, to suddenly get revenge on his ex-girlfriend with a kid who he doesn't even know? For that matter, why would he TP his girlfriend's house, when it's not even a house, it's an apartment building? That message wouldn't even be clear. Similarly, why would this 20-something girl take time out of her Halloween night to help out this Spider-Kid that she doesn't even know? 100% of people seeing a random kid on Halloween would just keep going.
There are, like, a thousand other mistakes and sloppy occurences. How can a man drive a convertible away and not realize there's a kid in the back seat, who isn't even crouched down? Who lets a kid into an adult Halloween dance? Are there nerdy kids anywhere who idolize Aaron Burr and have access to muskets? Would someone really pretend to have a duel with a chicken leg, instead of throwing a punch, which would be much, much easier? Does any parent speak ancient Greek with their kid?
No, no, no - it's all forced contrivances, and the end does not justify the means. I'll bet some writer made the boy mute just so he wouldn't have to write believable dialogue for a kid. I think the romantic dialogue is the worst, because we all know that the lead girl is going to have a revelation at some point during the night, and will realize that the nerd-friend who helped her is a better love interest than the hot guy at the party. Sure, nerds are people too, and there's a lid for every pot, but come on, most girls that look like that don't figure this sort of thing out until much later in life.
I'm going to try and be kind today, because it's a holiday, and giving this film a "2" would put it on a level with "Eraserhead", and this film makes slightly more sense than that one. The only redeeming message here is that whatever your age, there's a Halloween for you - if you're a kid you can go out and get candy (though, honestly, kids, with less money than you spent on your costume, you can go to the drugstore and get EXACTLY the kind of candy you want, not a mixed bag) or if you're a young adult you can go to a happening party, or if you're a parent, you can watch your kids have fun. I'm none of those things, so I'm just going to answer the doorbell when it rings.
Also starring Victoria Justice, Chelsea Handler (last seen in "This Means War"), Jackson Nicoll (last seen in "The Fighter"), Jane Levy, Thomas Mann (last seen in "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters"), Thomas Middleditch (last seen in "The Wolf of Wall Street"), Kerri Kinney-Silver (last seen in "Wanderlust"), Ana Gasteyer (last seen in "Rapture-Palooza"), Riki Lindhome, Abby Elliott (last seen in "No Strings Attached"), Thomas McDonell, Josh Pence, Holmes Osborne (last seen in "Larry Crowne").
RATING: 3 out of 10 prank phone calls