Cute, but unremarkable geek-hipster tale of a homeschooled wannabe sci-fi writer who has his ideas pillaged by both a student filmmaker and his idol, a sci-fi writer named Ronald Chevalier. Jared Hess definitely makes this more Napoleon Dynamite than Nacho Libre, focusing on the redundancy and repitition of these characters’ lives and deriving comic value from their total lack of self-awareness. The films fatal flaw is his lack of desire to take things to the next level; there are no scenes a la Jack Black actually mastering his eagle powers at Nacho’s climax. He seems far more fascinated with the universality of his characters as they deal with problems so banal that only we can recognize their stupidity. Which is a shame, because his cast seems game for much more than they are given. Michael Anganaro is actually an appropriate lead, emoting both familiar and idiosyncratic vibes throughout while retaining our sympathy. Jennifer Coolidge is hilarious as his mom, an overbearing, but generous woman whose delusions are almost as expansive as her failed nightware line. Hector Jiminez (from Nacho Libre) is funny, but tired; he does not figure out how to differ his character from Napoleon’s Pedro or his own from Nacho Libre. But the actors that make this film more than just disposable hipster trash are Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords) and Sam Rockwell. Rockwell plays the protaganist of the story that the plot revolves around, and he injects his nonsense, archtype-derived role with a mad energy that makes his sequences highlights of the film. Jemaine Clement plays Chevalier as the epitome of stuck-up, with a brandy-tinged pretentious accent and line delivery that insinuates that he feels absolutely impervious to reality, logic, or ethics; for Flight fans, more of him would make the film much more worthwhile. However, as is, both him and Rockwell are merely momentary flashes of hilarity in a movie that does not earn it.
Slightly Recommended for fans of sci-fi novels, Jemaine Clement, and Jared Hess. This could have been a better movie if they had been more willing to escape the “trapped teen” storyline that grounds the film in cliche. Alas, I’ll still see Hess’s next film.