If you’d have told me a movie entitled Herpes Boy was going to wind up being a sentimental experience, I would’ve laughed you out of the room. Herpes Boy? Really? Luckily, you didn’t have to tell me, because I watched Nathaniel Atcheson’s film and I’m telling you. This film isn’t just about humor and quirk, it’s got heart too.
Rudy (Byron Lane) is a social outcast. Having been graced with a huge birthmark over the one side of his lips, Rudy has spent the better part of his life getting teased or disregarded for his look. Not surprisingly, this has helped Rudy develop a very simple stance on life: he hates people. He hates them so much that he spends the majority of his time filming a video blog where he repeatedly states as much. While not a huge success, Rudy’s vlog offers him social feedback from an array of other misfits who reach out in their own ways via video comments. They seem to be the only ones who understand him. His family definitely doesn’t.
His mom (Beth Grant) is a New Age mess, his grandmother (Julianna McCarthy) only comes out at night when everyone else is asleep (she too hates people), his brother is an obnoxious jock (Zack Silva) and his dad (Michael Chieffo) is a soccer coach who just can’t seem to wrap his head around why his son spends all his time filming himself and the rest of the family.
After Rudy’s father dies, the family comes together to prepare for the funeral, which brings Rudy’s cousin Christeee (Ahna O’Reilly) to town. An actress/model/dancer, Christeee sees Rudy’s video world and decides she wants it for herself. After re-editing some of Rudy’s videos into a viral success, Rudy finds himself an outcast from even his own vlog, as new commenters arrive to swoon over Christeee and deride the newly-named Herpes Boy.
Herpes Boy is many things, and one of those things is funny. Rudy is a nervous, idiosyncratic mess of a human and, birthmark or no, would probably be mocked and picked on anyway (unless you take the argument that the birthmark caused his other social issues; I think they all developed together as opposed to a simple cause-and-effect scenario). His videos are stream of consciousness insanity, and the weirdos that pop up to comment and share with him are equally as out there and funny.
To the point, this is a very amusing, pleasant film. It looks good, it’s edited well, the acting is great, the visual effects really work (which is something; how many movies have you seen where someone goes on the internet and it looks nothing like any internet you or I have ever seen)… across the board, no weak spots. And, again, it manages to work in some real sentimental moments. This isn’t a film about a misfit; this is a movie about an emotionally estranged father and son finding some common ground. And it’s a great time spent watching a movie.
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