Original Theatrical Release: May 27, 2010
Director: Jared Hess
Benjamin (Michael Angarano) is a withdrawn, socially awkward home-schooled student with a love of science fiction. While at a writing camp for young authors, Benjamin gets to see his favorite sci-fi author, Ronald Chevalier (Jemaine Clement), who is one of the judges of a writing contest. Hoping to win the contest, and Chevalier’s respect, Benjamin submits a manuscript. When he sees extreme similarities between Chevalier’s new novel and his own manuscript, he decides to fight back.
I really, really wanted to like this.
- I mean, it was made by Jared Hess, the same guy who made another movie I loved; Napoleon Dynamite.
- It had Sam Rockwell in it, along with Jemaine Clement.
- It was about science fiction writing and writing in general, which is something I’m very interested in right now. (I’ve been to writing workshops and seminars lately just like the one in the film)
- It had all of the ingredients to be a great film but it ended up falling short.
I think the film’s first mistake was to under-use the main draw of the movie, for me, which was Jemaine Clement. He was hands-down the funniest part of the movie. Sam Rockwell was great as Bronco, too, but we at least got a decent amount of scenes of him between the various versions of the story used in the movie.
Michael Angarano wasn’t super-charismatic on screen and thus didn’t keep me as interested as the other characters in the movie. I felt he didn’t have much of a voice in the film.
On top of that, there weren’t a ton of hilarious parts in a supposed-to-be-hilarious movie like this. With Napoleon Dynamite we still had the kitsch, but there were a ton of laughs. This one was just very drawn-out and unfocused, moving between a film-within-a-film concept in addition to alternate versions of the original story both altered by Chevalier and Benjamin as well as the overall arc of the story that was going on simultaneously. Too much, too fast.
It had some good heart and a lot of ambition, but it wasn’t executed to its fullest extent.
JOE Rating: ★★
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