Cleveland is shining in the national spotlight once again as "Fun Size" lands in theaters.
The Halloween-themed movie was filmed throughout Northeast Ohio in 2011 using dozens and dozens of local people as extras.
So, is this movie worth checking out?
Review by Claudia Puig, USA TODAY
"Fun Size" is a textbook case of false advertising.
There's little fun to be had in this foolish Halloween comedy that generates many more eye rolls than laughs.
It's certainly not entertaining to see Chelsea Handler defanged and playing an oblivious mom. She has some quasi-humorous moments, but her trademark snark only appears in muted flashes.
"Fun Size" (* 1/2 out of four; rated PG-13; opens Friday nationwide) aims for "Home Alone"-style craziness, but just comes off as queasy. Though it's billed as a teen comedy, it's hard to imagine at whom this film is truly aimed. It has none of the edgy humor of the most successful teen comedies. Yet it's definitely not for little kids.
Bucketsfull of crass defecation jokes and fat gags bump up against mildly satirical observations and sappy sweetness. Tone shifts are jarring during this night of Halloween mayhem. Scenes in which a little costumed boy is taken hostage and locked up by a creepy stranger are played for laughs, but a kidnapped kid hardly seems like a joking matter.
The story centers on Wren (Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice), a beautiful girl whom we're supposed to believe is an unpopular nerd because her idea of a cool Halloween costume is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
A high school senior in Cleveland, Wren can't wait to get away from her oddball family and go off to NYU. But despite Wren's low social standing at school, it turns out the hunky heartthrob all the girls dream of has a crush on her and issues a coveted invitation to his Halloween party.
But, at the last minute, Wren is left in charge of her strange and uncommunicative 8-year-old brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) so her mom can go off with her 26-year-old boy toy to a Halloween bash.
As Wren and her BFF April (Jane Levy) take Albert trick-or-treating, the boy vanishes into a sea of Halloween revelers. Most of the movie centers on Wren searching for her little brother while he goes on a series of misadventures that are never remotely credible, clever or comical.
Meanwhile, Wren connects with a school pal, Roosevelt (Thomas Mann), whose lesbian moms are a wanly funny caricature as they jointly weave a giant tapestry of Barack Obama's smiling face. They insist on speaking ancient Greek to their son just before he takes their Volvo on a mission to help Wren. Of course, the requisite car crash ensues, in a drawn-out and unfunny manner involving a giant chicken statue.
Of course no real harm comes to Albert, given the sugar-coated world in which this inane comedy resides. Certainly it's not meant to be realistic. It is, however, meant to be funny. And it fails spectacularly on that count.