A throwback to a more innocent time when films like Ordinary People, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, Valley Girl and Sixteen Candles gave surprisingly realistic depictions of how kids lived in a pre-Internet-and-cell-phone America, Fun Sizeis a delightful treat in a cinematic season concentrated on the paranormal and the absurd. Teen Wren (Victoria Justice) just wants to escape her sorrowful home: Beloved dad recently died; mom (Chelsea Handler) is dyeing her hair and dating a 26-year-old improbably named Keven (rhymes with Stephen); and little bro Albert (scene-stealing Jackson Nicoll) hasn’t spoken a word in months. Wren, and her best friend April (Jane Levy), have to watch Albert, who promptly disappears, setting off a massive teen search party, and, in the process, creating huge misunderstandings with the high school toughs, budding romances, teenage hormones, and Halloween pranks.
So, the movie is kind of like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, if all the principals were Cameron—that is, without the happy-go-lucky charm and luck of FB. Wren is really smart, which of course makes her a high school dweeb, but she’s also economically challenged (at one point she refers to her $20 weekly allowance—a refreshing touch). Admirer-from-not-so-far Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) has to ask his Mom for permission to take the Volvo. Judging from her hospital scrubs, Wren’s mom clearly has a day job. Little bits of reality—the movie takes place in Cleveland, for Pete’s sake—add to the rich mosaic that is this clever film’s backdrop. You also get the feeling that these people aren’t glued to Revenge or Showtime; there’s an innocence that hasn’t been seen on screen since, well, the movies mentioned in the above paragraph. When Fuzzy, a jilted convenience-store worker, seeks Albert’s assistance in a bit of poetic vengeance, we never get that “ick” factor that might otherwise come from a young adult looking to spend time with an 8-year-old.
Fun Size is a small film that will go the way of DVD by Christmas, but it’s worth viewing, and enjoying. Sure, it could have gone deeper, and delivered something darker and more sinister, in terms of the secret lives of the American teen. But it’s believable and loveable, perhaps because it refuses to go that route, and as such, it’s an absolute must-see.