Since the releases of Atari’s “Pong” in 1972 and Namco’s “Pac-Man” in 1980, video games have not only occupied a significant portion of youth culture, but they have also held a firm and lucrative place within the entertainment industry. The generation that grew up playing the games of the 80s (like “Asteroids” and “Contra”) has grown up, moved to Hollywood, and made themselves a motion picture about the industry they so passionately admire. Certainly not ahead of its time like “Tron” was back in the day, the Happy Madison production company has created one of the most humorless attempts at comedy since the invention of Rob Schneider.
The minuscule plot involves Alex (Allen Covert), a 35 year-old weed connoisseur/video game tester who gets kicked out of his house (thanks to his roommate spending rent money on “massage” therapists) and has to find a new place to live. He bounces around from place to place until finally settling in with his Grandmother (Doris Roberts) and her two elderly roommates. One of these gentle ladies openly shares stories about being promiscuous with various silent film stars in her youth. Logically, the lady would have to be over a 100-years-old but she doesn’t look a day over 70.
In between dealing with his Grandma and her crazy roommate, Alex runs into a kung-fu monkey, an African tribal doctor and a naked drug dealer setting up a Christmas tree, all while making plenty of time for masturbation. At least one of those events is normal for a gaming geek and you can probably guess which one. While some of these are good for a laugh or two, these gags wear themselves thin quick, as do the characters.
Three people with an apparent knowledge of the gaming industry worked on the screenplay, including stand-up comedian Nick Swardson. Since he also acts in this picture, it’s apparent what portion of the screenplay he worked on. His character gets the best lines, which work perfectly with his delivery style. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help the rest of the story, which focuses too much on a plethora of stereotypical and unnecessary secondary characters.
“Grandma’s Boy” is a touch above the usual adolescent male friendly films of Happy Madison’s previous on-screen massacres (see “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” for example”) but it isn’t quite as smart or funny as other recent comedies like 40 Year-Old Virgin or Wedding Crashers. The cameos from various SNL cast members are pointless and unfunny. Kevin Nealon plays a sort of new-aged spiritual guru using cliché instead of ingenuity to build an interesting character. Lookout for David Spade and Mr. Rob Schneider doing routines you’ve seen them do countless times before.
What would make this movie more enjoyable? Bringing a couple of beers with you to the theater won’t do the trick (as I learned from a couple of dudes sitting behind me at the promotional screening). Taking a couple bong rips probably won’t help you either. Could there be a future for this type of film, regarding the various adventures of the super video game geek? Sure, as long as it’s better than this one.
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