Movie Review: "Noobz"
Rating: R (language, some crude sexual references)
Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: January 25, 2013
Directed by: Blake Freeman
Stars: 2 out of 5
"Noobz" is a film that centers on video game addict Cody (Blake Freeman), who is having a hard time balancing his gaming with the rest of his life. He eventually loses his job and his girlfriend, which sends him into a tailspin of morose depression. When most men reach rock bottom like this, they generally end up trying to get their life back together and ditch whatever it was that got them there in the first place. Cody isn't like other men, though, since he's really just an emotionally stunted boy in a man's body.
Cody's way of life is very similar to that of his buddy Andy (Jason Mewes), who is also in a state of arrested development despite the fact that he is pushing forty years of age. In order to get Cody out of his funk, Andy decides that more gaming, not less, is the answer. He commands Cody to practice while he organizes a cross-country trip to a championship competition for players of "Gears of War," the game that they are so obsessed with. He also has an ulterior motive, because he wants to take the trip to meet Rickie (Zelda Williams), a fierce gamer girl whom he knows by her gamer name online. He has a huge crush on Rickie despite the fact that he has never met her in person.
Andy gathers the Reign Clan, his group of gaming friends. The motley crew includes Oliver (Matt Shively), who is conflicted about his sexuality because other gamers often make fun of his rather obvious feminine side. Also in the group is Hollywood (Moises Arias), the ultimate gamer stereotype who still lives with his mom. His mother just happens to be dating actor Casper Van Dien, who is playing himself in a hilarious cameo. This particular incarnation of Van Dien actually hates gamers and tries to stop the boys from going on their journey to the competition. He is just one of many roadblocks the boys encounter along the way, making this film just as much about road tripping as it is about gaming and friendship. Some of the boys begin to grow up emotionally as the trip progresses, while others have a much harder time getting out of their childish ruts.
Mewes is already something of a geek god due to his turn as half of the hilarious duo Jay and Silent Bob in "Clerks," "Clerks 2," and "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back." He may not be the top-billed actor in the film, but he gives the movie some serious nerd credibility merely by being in the cast. He could just coast by on his reputation, but he instead turns in a hilarious performance as a game store worker who seems to have zero interest in getting his life together or growing up.
Although Mewes is a big draw for the geek set, don't count out Van Dien, who made a huge splash in the science fiction world with the cult hit "Starship Troopers." Van Dien has barely aged since that film was released in 1997, which makes him instantly recognizable here. Though his character is one of the obstacles that the gang faces as they try to get to the tournament, he is still funny and likable, which makes one wonder why he isn't acting more. He also doesn't seem to be taking himself too seriously, which is always fun to watch on the big screen.
Sometimes the children of famous actors get roles in smaller films because their parents are movie stars. Williams is the daughter of Robin Williams, but she clearly did not need to drop her father's famous name in order to get this role. She more than holds her own in the film. The film is loaded with male actors, but Williams still manages to stand out in this sizable ensemble cast. Director Freeman does a good job of balancing the female roles while still featuring the ultra-male side of video game culture. He also manages to make a movie that looks expensive despite the fact that he only had a miniscule $340,000 budget to work with. One can only imagine what kind of fun, irreverent movie he could make if he had the backing of a major studio and the budget to match.