A teenager attends a fantasy writers' convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.A teenager attends a fantasy writers' convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.A teenager attends a fantasy writers' convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist.
Michael Angarano ("Forbidden Kingdom") plays Benjamin Pervis, a friendless teen who lives with his penniless mom in a geodesic-domed house in rural Utah. Ben is a writer of sci-fi fantasy fiction who has one of his stories stolen by Ronald Chevalier (the delightful Jemaine Clement), a world-famous author with a James Mason voice. Ben also runs into a couple of bizarre indie-film makers who want to make the same story Chevalier stole from him (entitled "Yeast Lords" from the series "Gentlemen Broncos") into one of their shoestring-budget productions.
It's hard to know whether writers Jared and Jerusha Hess (Jared also directed the film) have any real affection for their characters and the world they inhabit or whether they view them merely as objects of out-and-out mockery and ridicule. In fact, the characters, with their mouth-breathing, slack-jawed expressions and atonal line readings, achieve near-freak show status at times. It's this air of condescension, rather than the tale itself, that sometimes makes it hard for us to laugh at what's happening on screen.
Despite this discomfort, however, there is still much to admire in the work. The movie has fun parodying both the unscrupulous nature of the publishing business and the accoutrements of low-budget filmmaking. Clement is marvelously deadpan as the sci-fi penner whose writer's-block forces him to scrap all traces of authorial integrity in pursuit of the almighty buck. And Angarano creates in Benjamin a character we can actually care about and root for. The enactments of scenes from Benjamin's novels are appropriately hokey and cheesy, and the movie also makes astute musical choices, particularly Zager and Evans' 1969 hit "In the Year 2525," which effectively book-ends the story.
- Oct 19, 2011