There are worse movies to watch than this. Just leave your brain at the door.
And the same continues through the character’s full length outing, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie. A movie that has been related to the classic comedy, Wayne’s World as a more in-depth look in the life of the episodic character. The difference is Wayne’s World is built on comedy. The entire SNL skit was made for comedic effect, while the hard rock/metalhead atmosphere was second to the comedy. AVGN is the opposite. The episodes are built on terrible games and the comedy is the atmosphere surrounding it.
And this is where AVGN’s full-length debut suffers: While it’s about video games and full of game references, the character suffering through terrible games is lost until 10 minutes into the end. In its place are joke after joke that show the script’s independent feel.
The gang is all here, or rather the character, since AVGN is a solo outing. James Rolfe plays the titular character, whose life we get to experience outside of his basement. For years, the Nerd has been constantly requested to review E.T., an old Atari 2600 game regarded as the worst game of all time and responsible for the video game crash of the 1980s.
When a sleazy corporate urchin from the game developer, Cockburn Inc. comes up with the idea of making an intentionally worse sequel to E.T., she plans to get it into the hands of the Nerd himself, thinking all the negative publicity will end up as positive sales for the game. The Nerd, fearing he’d have to return to review the original if he goes along with this, instead strikes a deal with Cockburn to go to New Mexico and uncover the landfill, where hundreds of thousands of cartridges are rumored to be buried. His intention: To kill the hoax and not review the original.
If that has your head spinning, rest easy, the plot will get more convoluted before it gets any simpler. The good news is, it actually does make sense in a contrived kind of way, and it totally fits the style of the AVGN episodes. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but see a poor man’s live-action South Park on the big screen. Things get more and more ridiculous until the end when a massive dark lord in charge of the universe tries to blow up the world, and it’s up to the nerd to stop them.
None of the performances are all that great, and Rolfe, who has turned in way better performances on youtube, seems completely off when he’s trying to tell a more mature storyline. Never once does the Nerd seem out of character, but Rolfe looks a bit uncomfortable in the role. The other parts are simply hit or miss, with the hits carrying very little momentum.
There is some great chemistry between Rolfe and Sarah Glendening, who plays Mandi, Cockburn’s corporate underling. Potential is also there for Rolfe and Stephen Mendel, who plays the main antagonist for most of the film, General Dark Onward. Jeremy Suarez, who plays Cooper, the Nerd’s sidekick and cameraman feels out of place in this movie, and I feel Kyle Justin (who plays the guitar guy in the videos) would have been more deserving of Suarez’s screen time rather than a brief cameo. The rest of the cast just filters in, says their lines, and does a little dance. Many of you will attribute this to the film’s B-Movie feel, and the film itself does make fun of its low production standards. I can get behind that.
I can also get behind the special effects, which while outdated and corny, are well done. Given the budget, this is a well-made movie. It’s edited well, it’s produced well, and James Rolfe has done the absolute best with what he has at his disposal, which isn’t much. The entire funding for the film was done via crowd sourcing and every penny was well spent. The jokes about the film’s budget did get some laughs out of me, and how deliberately bad some of them could be taken if in a Hollywood blockbuster.
What I can’t get behind is how the film occasionally jump out of its element and give us some things that would have been better left on the drawing board. About 70 minutes in, after seeing just about every type of monster and special effect technique from the 80s and 90s, Rolfe employs robots, cheaply made out of cardboard boxes and tin, and that was when I was taken out of the movie. There are some things you can get away with, and just about everything he did worked, until I saw this and wondered if he killed any darlings. The good news is that out of all the scenes that seem to run way too long, this scene is particularly short and forgivable.
But that’s the other issue I have: This movie and its scenes seem to drag on far too long. After the intrigue of seeing the Nerd outside of his basement wears off 45 minutes in, I was constantly looking at my watch, wondering where all of this would go. I appreciate the references to old games, but they seemed to hit a drought at the hour mark and resort to the bombastic B-movie effects. The jokes, while funny at times, seemed to be off on timing. I applaud Rolfe’s script for toning the Nerd down and not having him go on a profanity run through the whole movie, but I never found that funny before, and what they had to keep the movie fresh wasn’t very laugh-inducing either.
This film brought a lot of anticipation given how long Rolfe has been promoting it. Going in, I had a good idea of what I was in for, so in no way do I feel cheated. As a film, it certainly doesn’t have anything that’s worth me watching it again outside of background noise. As a piece of Rolfe’s career, he has something he definitely can be proud of, and while I won’t call it the greatest film I’ve ever seen, it was at least entertaining for the five bucks I paid to stream it.
It’s not a milestone, but Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie certainly delivers its fan service and brings exactly what has been advertised all these years. If you followed the character at all, it’s certainly worth a watch. If you’re looking for popcorn entertainment and know nothing about this or the video games he talks about in general, you’ll be hopelessly lost and bored in five minutes. Even fans of the show may feel alienated here. This isn’t a 10 minute film about a terrible video game, which is good. The story outside of the nerd just seems to not be as interesting as the games he plays. For all intents and purposes, it should be stated. Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is by no means, a good movie, nor is it a bad one.
Watch it or Forget it:
If you area fan of the show, or even just seen a few episodes, there’s worse movies to watch than this. Give a view. Just do what other reviewers have said and leave your brain at the door. It’s definitely going to matter about taste, but this is by no means a bad movie.