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'Fun Size' sounds like a better time than it really is

Posted 2:52pm on Thursday, Nov. 01, 2012

PG-13 (crude and suggestive material, partying, language); 90 min.

It's funny how the beloved movies of one's less politically correct youth turn out to have a lot more edge to them once you show them to your own kids. Back to the Future has more sexuality than you remember, and little blasts of profanity. Adventures in Babysitting, Bad News Bears and Goonies, even more.

Fun Size is in that tradition -- at least in terms of the naughty stuff that tweens and teens will snicker over. Pity it isn't as much fun as its title implies.

Victoria Justice jumps from Nickelodeon to the big screen with a PG-13 romp that only rarely romps, a movie that surrounds the lovely 19-year-old with funny people and struggles to find them laughs.

Justice (from TV's Victorious) plays Wren, a Cleveland high school senior dreaming of the day she can slip off to New York and college, which is where her late father taught her that "you find out who really are." First, she's got to talk mom (Chelsea Handler, given nothing funny to do) into letting her apply to NYU. Mom's a bit distracted. Her grieving for her late husband has taken the form of dating/sleeping with a much younger, goofier, oddly named Keevin (Josh Pence).

Wren's plans to hit the high school Halloween party and hook up with its hot host (Thomas McDonell) take a hit when she has to babysit her 8-year-old brother, Albert (Jackson Nicoll), and he disappears. Her nerdy true-blue pal Roosevelt (Thomas Mann, Project X) tries to help, but he secretly hopes Wren will see he is the guy for her.

Misadventures ensue, as they search for Albert, and Max Werner's middling script is sprinkled with surprises -- some of them rude, others downright crude. Houses are egged, a Volvo is "violated," fart jokes abound and Roosevelt's "moms" (Ana Gasteyer is one) score a couple of big laughs.

But Justice does nothing here that would make her stand out from the current crop of pretty young things trying to jump from TV to the movies.

TV director Josh Schwartz hasn't learned the "funny lens" (extreme close-up) or "faster is funnier" rules of big-screen comedy. Fun Size waddles along at half-speed, never building momentum.

-- Roger Moore,

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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