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Calling the Angry Video Game Nerd an internet phenomenon is an understatement. His video series about a foul mouthed, disgruntled gamer bashing the games that ruined his childhood is a geek sensation. The YouTube channel has almost 2 million subscribers, his videos average three million views each and an Indiegogo campaign that funded this movie originally asked for $75,000. It raised four times that amount.
Four years after its announcement, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie has finally been released and longtime fans, such as myself, will be satisfied with the results. While general audiences may not be able to look past the hit or miss acting, amateur camerawork and off kilter pacing, AVGN devotees will find lots to love. If you’ve ever laughed at the Nerd flipping off the Power Glove or find the word “shit pickle” funny, this one’s for you.
The film centers around the 1983 game ET for the Atari 2600, a game so bad, it’s been rumored to be buried in the New Mexico desert after the video game crash of 1983. True story. In the film, AVGN’s longtime fans have been clamoring for him to review the game. Reluctant to do so, his tune changes when a video game executive named Mandi (Sarah Glendening) gives him the chance to dispel the myth once and for all. With the help of his manager Cooper (Jeremy Suarez), the three set out on an absurd quest to discover the truth about the fate of the worst game ever made.
In the lead, series creator James Rolfe is hit or miss as the titular Nerd. While his slapstick, exaggerated approach to the character works in short form, cracks show over ninety minutes. Rolfe is at his best when he’s mugging for the camera and at his worse when trying to emote. It’s not a bad performance by any stretch but it proves the jump from web series to feature film can be a rough one.
Luckily, Rolfe surrounds himself with a solid cast, including two strong performances by Glendening and Suarez as his team of truth seekers. Glendening injects a hard-nosed sweetness to her character while Suarez’s energy and enthusiasm ratchets up the fun. Neither of them progress past their script moving roles, but they are still fun to watch.
As can be expected in a first time feature, there’s a lack of polish in the camera work. This is especially evident in the rough, uneven opening twenty minutes. The cinematography is bright yet bland and at times, looks like a well-made internet video. Scenes go on too long, the editing is suspect and many of the gross out gags seem shoehorned in.
But as things roll on, the movie finds its groove. A wonderful mix of After Effects gun fire, green screen trickery and Godzilla style scaled models, the movie brims with creative ways to stretch the budget. The practical effects in particular are a charming escape from the world of CGI explosions. Even when they dip into awful territory, they are always played with a knowing wink.
All of the purposefully cheesy visuals are in support of a surprisingly clever script, co-penned by longtime collaborator Kevin Finn. The central plot of the Nerd trying to disprove the ET myth overflows with creativity. If you’ve ever watched Rolfe’s long form reviews, you’ll know what to expect. After the borderline cringe worthy first third, the story blossoms to bizarre yet fantastic places. Without the strong script, this could have been a disaster.
While I may be looking through AVGN colored glasses as I write this review, I can objectively say Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie offers up a healthy dose of B-movie fun. I genuinely enjoyed my time with it. If you’ve never watched the Nerd scream at Castlevania or battle Super Mecha Death Christ online, check out his YouTube channel before plunking down the money. This may not be for you. If you’re like me, I’m shocked you haven’t seen it already.
Brisk, crass and delightfully absurd, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie delivers on a promise made almost five years ago. It may be flawed, but fans can rest assured they got the movie they asked for. Something fun, creative and full of everything we love about AVGN.
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The old school practical effects are charming and well executed, the script is full of wonderfully absurd revelations and the supporting cast pull their weight.
Amateurish cinematography, uneven pacing and an almost painful opening third may prompt viewers to turn the film off before it hits its stride.