Fun Size (PG) – 2.5 STARS
Victoria Justice, Chelsea Handler, Jane Levy, Thomas Mann
DIRECTOR JOSH SCHWARTZ
REVIEW SHANNON HARVEY
You’ll like this if you liked Project X, Home Alone, American Pie, Pretty in Pink, 16 Candles, Mean Girls
Isn’t it ironic that Halloween is associated with witches, black magic and evil yet the actual event itself is all about children, dress ups and candy. When did that happen?
And why are movies released on Halloween always horror movies? Why not movies about kids, candy and dress ups?
As if to redress the balance comes Fun Size — albeit released a month after Halloween here. Like the single-serve fun-size candy itself, it’s a sweet, bubbly comic confection aimed at tweens and produced by the children’s network, Nickelodeon.
There’s no hockey-mask wearing slasher-freaks on this Halloween night. The biggest scares, in fact, come from the pimply teens who’ve barely learnt how to drive.
Set in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, Fun Size follows the socially awkward but clearly fabulous high school girl Wren (Victoria Justice). She’s the kind of cool nerd who thinks dressing up on Halloween as a witchy Supreme Court Justice is smart and funny.
So when the school hunk invites Wren and her best friend April (Jane Levy) to the cool kids’ Halloween party, they’re beside themselves. Alas, Wren’s single mother (Chelsea Handler) has party plans too, and saddles her with babysitting her kid brother Albert (Jackson Nicholl) at the last moment.
For a mother and daughter supposedly still grieving the loss of their husband and father respectively, these two seem all too keen to party. The mother even has a 26-year-old boy toy.
Reluctantly, Wren and April take the sweetly odd eight-year-old trick or treating. But when he goes missing in a sea of costumed revellers, Wren and April team up with two dorky lads (Thomas Mann and Osric Chau) to find him before mum finds out.
Much of Fun Size thus switches between Wren’s desperate search for Albert and his own fun-size adventure.
Yet the tone is all over the place, switching between squeaky clean teen hijinks and crass potty humour — as if aimed at younger than American Pie but older than Home Alone. And it’s just about the lightest, brightest, prettiest film ever set on Halloween night.
Perhaps that’s no surprise given its plucky star has her own show on Nickelodeon (Victorious) and previously starred in tween-coms iCarly and Zoey 101. She’s wonderful, yet Jane Levy is even better as her snarky BFF.
Fun Size is very much in the vein of a John Hughes movie, and it doesn’t take a school dux to work out that romance will be found with those you least suspect.
And while little Albert himself is the real (life of this party — and true heart of the movie — he’s given barely a line of dialogue and far too little screen time to help stretch Fun Size into a standard or even jumbo size comedy.
As the title suggests, Fun Size delivers fun-size laughs while staying as wholesome and hip as the Nickelodeon brand allows. Like those little single-serve packets of sugary, chocolaty joy, it’s a barely satisfying but easily digestible treat.Fun Size is now screening.