Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Year 8, Day 110 - 4/19/16 - Movie #2,310

BEFORE: It's the day of the New York primary, and I screwed the pooch when it came to voting today.  I'm registered, I believe I could have, should have voted, but I didn't.  And now it's 7:40 pm and I'm seeing this film "Nerdland" tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, and anyway, my heart's just not into voting today.  Let me explain why.

First off, if you're registered and you get the chance to vote in your state, or your country, you totally should.  Definitely, definitely - do as I say, not as I do.  Because a whole lot of people died over the years to preserve your right to do that, and not voting totally dishonors their memories.  Plus, there are people in countries who don't GET to vote, or not in a fair way, so you should reap the benefits of free elections and enjoy the fact that you live in a society that allows them.  OK, enough with the PSA.  

I'm abstaining from voting (yeah, that's good, that can work) not because I don't care, because I do care very much.  And not because I don't believe my vote counts, but rather because I know EXACTLY how much my vote counts, which is so small it's essentially statistically insignificant.  We've just got too many people in this country - and I don't mean too many Mexicans, or immigrants, or people of color, or anything like that - there are just. too. many. people.  What's one vote against the rest, when you live in a city of 8 million, a state of nearly 20 million, a country of (gasp) 319 million?  Thinking that my vote's going to change anything is like thinking I could choose the winning PowerBall numbers while being eaten by a shark and struck by lightning at the same time.  It's not going to happen.

I hear the arguments in favor of voting - "Maybe one vote can't change things, but ten thousand votes like yours can".  OK, go out and get those ten thousand votes, then give me a call.  But at that point you probably don't even need me, because you've got those ten thousand other people.  "But what if nearly everyone was like you, and didn't vote?"  Well, then those people that found a way to get to the polls would find that their votes were suddenly very important.  And, you're welcome.  

But allow me to make a distinction between the people who were just too lazy to vote (and I get that, I really do, I understand lazy) and people who were too busy.  Turns out I was both, too lazy and too busy, but let's focus on the "busy" part for a moment.  I had to work in Brooklyn today, which means from my place in Queens, I had to go into Manhattan and catch an express subway to Brooklyn.  

My boss got a short accepted into the Tribeca Film Festival, as part of a block programmed by Whoopi Goldberg.  We had an opportunity to get several free tickets for other screenings, but I let the deadline pass, because I hadn't found any other scheduled films I wanted to see.  But a few weeks ago,  I checked out the whole program guide, and I found "Nerdland", a film animated by a studio that's just down the street.  AND it featured the voice of Paul Rudd, and I realized it would fit right into my schedule, especially if I watched "Ant-Man" on April 18.  So it seemed like a sign, it had to happen, so I bought a ticket, not realizing that April 19 was also the date of the NY Primary.  

The screening's not until 9:15 pm, so theoretically after I got out of work, I could have gone back home to vote.  But that would have meant going Queens to Manhattan to Brooklyn, back to Manhattan, back to Queens, back into Manhattan to see the film, then finally back home to Queens.  Yeah, I'm not doing that. Too much travel.  So it's Queens to Manhattan to Brooklyn, into Manhattan to see the film, home to Queens, and no voting.  

Oh, I suppose I could have gotten up early, maybe voted around 9 am, then started my day, but the voting place is in the OPPOSITE direction from the subway, so I would have had to walk like 7 blocks, then 7 back, then two to the subway.  Again, not doing that.  Plus, I'm not a morning guy - the only way I would be there at 9 am would be to stay up all night, and then I'd be a wreck for the rest of the day.  Look, this is the digital age, why can't I vote on my computer, why isn't there an app on my phone that allows me to take part in the democratic process?  Why does it involve so much walking, isn't that an unfair system against people who have trouble walking, or don't own cars?  Aren't those people being repressed and their voices not being heard?  I should hold my vote back in a silent protest of solidarity...

Look, if it's any consolation, I feel really bad about it, OK?  I hemmed and hawed over which candidate to choose, the one who has a ton of scandals but could end up being really proficient at the  job, or the one who's promising everyone the moon but may not be able to deliver those things.  I believe that HE believes he can deliver, but I strongly suspect he's delusional.  Truth be told, I don't like either candidate, and maybe that's part of why I'm OK with not voting.  But as I said, I feel bad about it, so I promise to vote in November for whichever candidate isn't Trump, OK?  We cool?

So now I'm waiting for the early results, which might come in around 9 pm, but most likely they won't post anything until I'm halfway through this movie.  I'll know when I come out of the theater whether my lack of voting had any effect upon society, but I'm betting that it won't.  Who knows, maybe Clinton will lose New York by ONE VOTE, and then we can all point to "Nerdland" as the film that maybe changed the course of history.  For want of a nail, and all that - if I hadn't bought this ticket, I would have gone home and voted after work, and we'd have a female President.  OK, if that happens, it's on me.  

BUT, I lived through the 2000 presidential election - so I have much more right to be jaded and cynical than any of these damn slacker millennials do.  I know that if any election is that close, like with 1 or 2 percent separating the candidates, then someone's going to contest things or demand a recount.  And then we'll have that situation where they count the votes 17 times and get 17 different results.  Welcome to the world of politics, kids.  It's filled with shady dealings and disappointment and watching the a-hole you didn't vote for win, and someday you'll be as jaded as I am, for real.

I don't think I'm far off-base here, because this whole election season has been the craziest, dumbest, most soul-crushing political period I've ever seen.  I'll wrap up for now, but in a few weeks I've got a film or two about politics, and I reserve the right to pick up this topic again then.  But I think the whole system stinks, it feels like a season of "American Idol" with no stand-out singers, and every week instead of voting for the best, people just vote for the least worst, and that's really not the same thing. 

THE PLOT:  Story of two best friends, aspiring screenwriter Elliot and aspiring actor John, whose dreams of super-stardom have fizzled. With their 30th birthdays looming and their desperation growing, John and Elliot decide that in this 24/7, celebrity-obsessed world of over-shared navel-gazing, there are more ways to become famous -- or infamous -- then ever before.

AFTER: The animation studio here is Titmouse, a name you may recognize if you've seen "Venture Brothers", "Metalocalypse" or "Super Jail".  I haven't watched those shows, because I work for a living, and my Adult Swim viewing is therefore limited to new episodes of "Robot Chicken".  I think I'm probably too old for the rest of their line-up.  So I'm coming in at a loss here, I have to just review the movie put before me, without much background.  

I approve of animation made for adults, I work for a studio that makes animation for adults, and so I want to support animation made for adults.  Among my co-workers, the anticipation for "Nerdland" is probably second only to "Sausage Party", a CGI film full of anthropomorphized grocery food, coming out this summer.  But again, let me try to stick just to "Nerdland" and judge it on its own merits.

It's not too much of a mental leap from "Beavis and Butthead" to John and Elliot.  Maybe if those kids finally stopped watching videos and got off the couch, moved to L.A. and tried to find work in the entertainment industry.  In the meantime, they have to support themselves with various jobs to pay the rent - and just like Scott Lang in "Ant-Man", Elliot's been fired from an ice-cream shop (and a record store, and a video-store, and...)  

But in a few days they'll both be 30 years old (Ya feel that, millennials?  It's coming...) so they decide to take the fast-track to being famous, and these days that means only one thing - making internet videos.  When that doesn't work, they decide to become hackers, then pop-culture news heroes, and when THAT doesn't work, really, there's only one solution, right?  If the first two words you thought of were "hard work", then you're way off-base.  Think more like "murder spree".  I think the twisted logic that gets them there is quite an interesting turn, even though if we like these guys, we don't want to see them kill a bunch of people.  

But there's a message here, kids, if you can stop texting long enough to hear it - there is NO fast track to fame.  For most people, there isn't even a slow track.  Every person who became famous, for the right reasons anyway, had to work hard to get there.  I heard some rock stars bad-mouthing "American Idol" about a month ago, because it seemed like such a fast-track to them, and the people involved don't seem to be paying their dues.  Yeah, but nobody has natural talent, not even pop stars, they have to practice, they have to learn songs, they have to get up on stage and perform.  They even have to appear in silly Ford commercials, and that's not easy.  

Oh, sure, there are YouTube stars, and there are Kardashians.  But even YouTubers have to work hard to make good videos, and anyone who has success thrust upon them for the wrong reasons - do you really WANT their kind of fame, in the end?  You might have some money, but no soul.  So quitcher whining and get a job, because no one's going to give you a free college education, and nobody's going to successfully wrestle money from the corporations and banks and distribute it out to twenty-somethings.  

I say this with confidence, because I came out of the screening to learn that Clinton won the NY primary, 57 to 42 percent at last count, which really saved my bacon.  OK, so the state delegates are going to be split, but it looks like she'll get 135 of them, and she now needs only 500 or so more for the nomination.  See, everything worked out fine, when you're stressed about something, you should just go to the movies and try not to worry about it.  Well, go and vote first, then go to the movies. 

My main complaint is that the film is called "Nerdland", and the two main characters aren't really nerds, they're more like slackers.  The main nerd in the film is an overweight man who runs a collectibles store and wears a crown (King of the Nerds), but he's too much of a stereotype, an urban version of Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" or The Collector from "PowerPuff Girls".  And like those other stereotypical nerds, he'll do just about anything for you, as long as you can get him a rare action figure that's MIB.  But we've all seen plot points like that before, right?  

Look, I've been across the country, I've met nerds from coast to coast.  Nerds are, for the most part, decent people, and the vast majority of them are hard-working and not very murder-y.  And they have smart phones, not flip phones - they love technology, after all!  If you're going to call a film "Nerdland", maybe put a few more nerds in it, that's all I'm saying. 

Also starring the voices of Patton Oswalt (last seen in "Failure to Launch"), Hannibal Buress (last seen in "Neighbors"), Julie Galdieri, Mike Judge, Riki Lindhome (last seen in "Fun Size"), Kate Micucci (last heard in "Rio 2"), Laraine Newman, Paul Scheer (last seen in "Rapture-Palooza"), Sally Kirkland, Laura Silverman.

RATING: 6 out of 10 Bloops


  1. Move to Indiana next week and vote there.

  2. It's rare that there's an animated movie that I haven't heard of, but Nerdland is one that got by me. I tried to find a copy, but I guess it hasn't even hit theaters yet.