7 February 2013 | culturedleftpeg
Adult gamer comedy that needs to hit the 'reset' button
Noobz is the story of four gamers and their path to LA and the Cyberbowl Video Game Championships. Of course, there's the usual trials and tribulations that come with such a trip. Written and directed by relative newcomer Blake Freeman, the central four of the film are played by Jason Mewes (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, The Tripper, Todd & The Book of Pure Evil), Matt Shively (Paranormal Activity 4), Moises Arias (Hannah Montana, Nacho Libre) and Freeman himself. Along the way, there's comedy, romance, break-ups, gaming rivalry and Casper Van Dien.
The film starts off by showcasing the rivalry that is now more popular than ever between online games. Gone are the days of one man sat in his room, bashing his joystick on his own. Now said joystick basher has the chance to test his wits against other like-minded people across the globe. Even better than that, there are now gangs/clans that games can join up with in order to take down other clans via the joys of the worldwide web.
We're firstly introduced to three friends; Cody (Freeman), Andy (Mewes) and Oliver (Shively). They play Gears of War 3 online in a four-man clan alongside their cyber-friend 'Hollywood', supposedly Casper Van Dien, but in reality Moises Arias. All four are obsessed gamers, with them calling a halt to all other activities in their life when there's the chance of an online match - jobs and relationships firmly take a back seat early on in the story. We also quickly learn about their mortal enemies; the 'Black Assassins' clan. The film is set up as a buddy movie of sorts, with some smutty and sexual humour thrown in for good measure.
First thing's first with a comedy like this, is it actually funny? To this, I say, an unequivocable 'at times.' The film starts off well, with the principal cast and the basic plot all introduced quickly and thoroughly enough. It's sometime during the second act that the film starts to lose its appeal. At first the jokes are fine, even funny a lot of the time, but they just seem to repeat themselves the longer the film goes. The humour is toilet humour at best. Luckily, I'm a fan of toilet humour - I just prefer it to be a bit funnier than the majority of what's on show here.
Whilst the characters are all supposed to be flawed in their own individual ways, I didn't find myself feeling any attachment to any of them. Now, I'm a gamer as well, so I could relate to that part of the story, it's just that the characters, particularly Cody, feel hollow. There's just nothing there to care about. There's the unravelling of an apparent love story featuring Mewes and Zelda Williams' Rickie, yet you never really buy into it as it's not fleshed out enough for you to even care about, especially when the film reaches its finale. You're left thinking, 'what was the point?' with that subplot – a feeling that you'll have to become familiar with if you're to see Noobz through.
The film isn't entirely horrible; there are some funny bits. The funnier scenes seem to stem around young Sklyan Brooks' Chomamma; the leader of the rival 'Black Assassins' clan. It's just a major shame that the majority of his scenes tend to come in the first half of the film, meaning that the better stuff is out-of-the-way early on. I also quite look the comical usernames that the main characters have, with RumPULL4Skinz being a favourite of mine. There's also some decent performances, mainly from Matt Shively and Moises Arias. There's even a nice subplot involving Jon Gries' distant father to Arias' Hollywood. Gries is great in his role as a world-famous retro gamer, with Frogger being his game of choice. He's almost an exact replica of the real life Billy Mitchell, as featured in the brilliant 2007 documentary The King of Kong. As well as Gries, it's also nice to see an appearance from a personal favourite of mine, Lin Shaye. It's just a shame that her role is brief and relatively unimportant. You also feel as if Jason Mewes is trying to his best with the role, yet he seems to be facing a constant uphill battle. His character is often funny, yet sometimes a bit too forced, with the character just coming off as Jay-lite for those familiar with Mewes' appearance in various Kevin Smith films over the years. Mewes is better than this.
The concept of the film is quite nice in principle, but the execution is sloppy. The film takes elements from films such as Fanboys, Detroit Rock City, Role Models, Sex Drive and the aforementioned The King of Kong documentary, yet it fails to live up to any of those. Flat, hollow, lifeless and unfulfilling are just some words to throw at Noobz. It does have a Casper Van Dien cameo though.
I was really hoping for a lot more from this film, yet I was massively disappointed. It's not without its charms, it's just that they're few and far between. I give Noobz a bland and boring 4 out of 10 stars. I do quite like the tagline of 'Regular guys, virtual heroes' though.