Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (movie review)
On Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 7:30 PM, we saw the much-anticipated Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (screening dates) with a full house of raging Nerd Heads. The flick has been in production for several years now, so expectations were high and enthusiasm boundless as the lights dimmed and the picture popped onto the screen at the Sharp Theater. Would the fans get what they want, or would they go home disappointed? I was predicting the former, but you never can tell how these independent productions are going to turn out. Ready for anything, I settled into my balcony seat and watched the movie roll.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie with a crowd that was so excited for a premier… I don’t think I’ve heard people cheer at a title card like that since The Phantom Menace. Needless to say, the crowd loved just about every second of the movie. They laughed, they clapped, they cheered – it was a two-hour party. About five minutes into the film, I was very happy we were sitting in the relative safety of the balcony, far from the reach of the proverbial AVGN mosh pit that was the main house. Once the film ended and the Q&A started, nearly everyone in the sold out house had either a question, an autograph request or even a gift for James Rolfe (writer, co-director, producer and star). We stayed through about 20 minutes of Q&A and there was reportedly another 20 or so minutes to follow, which seemed to meet with Mr. Rolfe’s ambition to answer every question and shake every hand.
It’s tough to say exactly how objective I can be. I’m a big AVGN fan (although not as big as some, as I found out), so I of course enjoyed the movie very much, but as someone who dissects movies, I can’t help but take a closer look at the flick. It should be noted that the intense crowd noise made it tough to hear some bits of dialogue, so once this movie hits the aftermarket, I’ll probably revisit this review.
The movie is a lot of things… it’s kind of like Wayne’s World in the sense that it’s a movie about a character from the show and the character steps out of the show and you see the character’s life. It’s also sort of a road movie, like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, in the sense that the character has to go somewhere to do something. But the road tripping bit ends fairly early on in the flick and it sorta turns into an action movie. In the sense of a genre picture, it’s all over the place, but this doesn’t hurt the narrative or flow in any significant way.
There’s a dream sequence early on in the picture (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure also has a dream sequence – I think that’s part of the reason I make the connection between the films), and although there’s some cool images and fun stuff in there, I’m not sure this needs to be in the movie. It doesn’t especially hurt the picture, but the movie is nearly two hours, and I imagine that cutting this sequence would make the movie a lot snapper and a lot cheaper to produce, too.
Since I brought up money, let’s talk about budget real quick. The movie’s wikipedia page says the flick cost $325,000, most (all?) of which was acquired via crowdsourcing. Once I start thinking about money, I have to dive into how it was spent on the production. The camera’s image quality and the movie’s overall look is great, and I thought they made good use of the locations they visited. On the other hand, some of the green screen effects are not so great (particularly in the car), and there are several shots of people running in place in front of a green screen, which was funny the first time, but it felt more and more awkward each time. There are some awesome practical effects that were blended with CG elements or backgrounds at times, and these all look great, too. In other instances, it was just a model on a miniature set – no CG there. For the most part, I’d say this money was put to good use and of course, there’s lot of other things that money is spent on, like the crew, permits, travel, and so on, so it’s probably a miracle they were able to make a movie this big for so little money.
While I was pleased with the overall production quality, the character arcs are trickier. The Nerd doesn’t have one, but he doesn’t really need one – if his character fundamentally changed, he wouldn’t be what we wanted any more. Cooper, on the other hand, grows beyond his over protective mother and into manhood. Mandi… I dunno. At first, she’s sorta the antagonist, using The Nerd for her company’s gain, but at some point, she turns, but exactly when she realizes she’s on the good guy’s side… I’m not sure when that happened. The other antagonists just weren’t threatening enough for me. They were so dumb, you never felt like your heroes were in danger, so it took some of the drama away. On the other hand, they were hilarious, and the movie is a comedy, so that certainly counts for something.
When I step back now and think about the flick, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie was funny and evenly paced. It’s a little on the long side, but I didn’t really “feel” the running time, so that’s a good sign. I’m looking forward to watching this again at home in relative quiet – or, so I can at least hear all of the dialogue. The AVGN movie is a solid B picture in an old-fashioned sort of way, so I’m giving it an 8 out of 10 – it’s a movie made for a specific audience, and we ate it up with a spoon.
Posted on August 11, 2014, in movie review and tagged angry video game nerd, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, atari 2600, avgn, board james, Cinemassacre.com, james rolfe, movies, nes, nintendo, nintendo entertainment system, the angry video game nerd, video game review, video games, you know what's bullshit, youtube. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.