So, I’m at the Saturday morning screening of “Fun Size,” the theater full of little girls donned in costumes I’m assuming have something to do with the movie, which was distributed by TV’s Nickelodeon. A couple of seats down from me, a father has his excited little boy and daughter, she with her little purse, both with fun sized snack packs. Looking around, I realize the movie is not aimed at me. Whenever I see this many kids at a film made by a cable network, I know I’ll hear flatulence jokes and perhaps see a heavy dose of green slime-ing. But I’m there to do my job, so I will listen to the reaction of all the pint-sized audience members and see if there’s a positive message hidden beneath or behind the poop jokes. I have committed the same mistake I constantly warn my readers to avoid. I have come in blind, unaware if it’s animated or live action, let alone what the synopsis is or the reason for its rating. I “assumed” it was G or PG. If you read on, you’ll never make that mistake again. Nor will I.
You’ve heard me say that Hollywood keeps pushing the envelope. Moviemakers keep dumbing down and crudding up the culture, taking baby steps with each production further away from class or social decorum. Usually it’s a bit more suggestively done, but writer Max Werner and director Josh Schwartz treat the material as if it were a sequel to the raunchy 1980’s “Porky’s.” They bear no regard for the sensibilities of the youngest audience members, children who are still watching and expecting Victoria Justice (“Victorious”) to be in a movie similar to what they see on Nickelodeon. As for the intended demographic, well, evidently, it’s time for even the attending little girls with their little purses and fuzzy pom-pom hats, to grow up. After viewing this film, they will now be able to graduate to the films of Will Ferrell and Seth Rogan.
FILM SYNOPSIS: “Wren's (Victoria Justice) Halloween plans go awry when she's made to babysit her brother, who disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. With her best friend and two nerds at her side, she needs to find her brother before her mom finds out he's missing.”
The film is rated PG-13, but because middle school-aged girls see her on repeat episodes of “Victorious” daily, they, like unassuming film critics, are expecting this movie to be geared to them, not their high school sophomore brothers.
It really can’t be called a comedy despite the fact that there are a few unexpected guffaws (remember what a roomful of monkeys can do with typewriters). But like those primates with keyboards, this film’s writers have amassed a collection of crudities and sexual references without any true wit or comprehension. What they’ve given the audience is something closely resembling smut.
To the best of my recollection, I’ve never before used the word smut. But I think it fits “Fun Size.” Now, the next six paragraphs will explain why I feel that word best describes this assault on children. I include some of the crude visuals and dialogue in order to make a point.
A teen with only a learner’s permit backs his car into a pole that props up a fast food chain’s large metal chicken replica. The chicken comes tumbling down onto the car, smashing in the roof, with the perched poultry leaning over the back of the car, bobbing up and down on the back of the vehicle as if it was, well, a free range porn star.
There’s a nude 8-year-old sitting on the toilet reading a comic book while his unknowing teen sister is taking her shower, opening the curtain to investigate the awful odor now filling the bathroom.
It’s Halloween, so the lead and her raunchy BBF are looking for costumes. The friend is pushing sexy outfits with the logic that you need to be sexy to get ahead. (Are you listening, little girls in the audience?)
This same girl, one of the film’s so-called comic reliefs, explains to the lead why she is walking strangely. Earlier that day, she put Nair on her bottom, evidently to eliminate any hair growing where she felt it shouldn’t be. As she charmingly puts it, “I Naired my butt.”
Then there’s all the sexual innuendo that includes a 16-year-old girl having stayed out all night with a geeky boy, the two waking up in each other’s arms after a night of hardy partying. This same girl makes a deal with the geeky boy that if he will let her out of his car, she’ll let him hold her breasts for 20 seconds. This film makes sure you and all the little girls in the audience, see the geek’s fantasy fulfilled. Still another geeky male (there are lots of geeky males in this movie) runs down the street naked in order to get the cops to chase him rather than the female lead. Though he’s nude, his bottom is blurred by a special effect. Well, that makes it okay then, right? And one other geeky male has two mothers, who he repeatedly refers to as “my two moms.” (“What’s that mean, daddy,” asked one little girl sitting in my row.)
Lastly, well, not lastly, I just decided to spare you some of the obnoxiousness, let’s not overlook the language. Though the film’s moronic storyline seems aimed at preteens and below, still there’s cursing, everything from the s-word to the constant sophomoric expression, “Oh my God,” to one misuse of Christ’s name, and a little kid calling an older teen girl “bitch.”
Here’s the reason I’ve subjected you to my graphic descriptions. At no point did a parent ever usher their little ones out of the theater. Despite the fact that I sensed a lot of jaw-dropping, no one left the theater. No one ever leaves a theater anymore. Despite what’s said or done on the screen, there’s simply no outrage left in parents.
I’m beginning to think there’s something wrong with me. I still think little girls should be nurtured by Tinker Bell and sugar and spice and everything nice. If I had a little girl, I would have taken her out of that screening theater. I’m sure she would be upset by having to leave, but I’m not going to sit there with my little girl (if I had one) and let her witness material I consider smut. One doesn’t have to be a feminist to want more for a little girl than the prospect that you need to be sexy to get ahead.
It must be pretty rough for you parents. You both work or share custody, and Hollywood is the affordable babysitter. But that babysitter is more than a slacker who checks out your bedroom drawers. That babysitter is secular, hedonistic, and cultureless.
As I don’t have children, I must guard against false superiority. I can’t even comprehend how difficult it is to rear children these days. But wouldn’t you fire the babysitter if you learned he or she was abusing your kid? You just read those paragraphs above. Wouldn’t you say Hollywood is being abusive?
“Fun Size” made $4.1 million its opening weekend. Did parents know what was in it? Did they care?
Good luck, kids.