Gamer Cinema: Noobz
Welcome to a new feature of Medium Entertainment, Gamer Cinema. There are tons of movies out there about games and gaming culture that cover most any genre you can think of, so I thought it would be fun to regularly review them. This feature will mostly focus on smaller movies, documentaries and fan films mostly because those will be awful and easy to make fun of, but occasionally you'll get a nice hidden gem as well. Basically as long as it has at least some tenuous connection to gaming I will watch and review it (admittedly if I start getting low on material the connection might be pretty loose, but given how much I've found on Netflix and Hulu alone I doubt that'll be an issue). I should be able to put in at least one of these week, maybe more depending on my schedule.
Anyways, first up is Noobz, a straight to video comedy written, directed and starring Blake Freeman as Cody. Cody is pretty down on his luck, he just got fired from his job as a realtor and his wife left him because he can't hold down a job and spends most of his time playing video games (namely Gears of War 3). But Cody is actually really good at video games, and his buddies Andy (Jason Mewes) & Oliver (Matt Shively) convince him to come with them to LA to compete in the Cyberbowl Championships for a big cash prize.
Noobz is a fairly boilerplate comedy, but considering how low my expectations were initially(I mean seriously, look at that cover and tell me it doesn't look like some quick cash in by somebody who actually has no idea about games), that was an incredibly pleasant surprise. Freeman is pretty affable as the straight man lead. Shively is ok as a barely in the closet buddy and manages to get a few laughs but considering this a 2012 movie he doesn't have much reason to be and might've been funnier just being gay and ok/proud of it. The real surprise is Mewes, who is miles away from his well-known obnoxious Jay persona which is funny in small doses but can't really carry a movie (see Jay & Sient Bob Strike Back). This is a very toned down and low key performance and he manages to be pretty funny and charming most of the movie, which is good because his subplot is the love story between him and a rival female gamer played by Zelda Williams (Robin Williams daughter) and they actually have pretty good chemistry and you have no problem believing that she would fall for a decent guy like him. Casper Van Dien is also pretty funny in a small amount of screen time playing himself.
What also helps is that obviously Freeman is a gaming fan, as the movie is littered with actual gaming paraphernalia and even a couple well-known gaming personalities like Adam Sessler and the fact that unlike many much bigger movies, it actually features a real game and not something that looks incredibly fake. This might be the most respectful representation of gamers I've seen in movie to date as well, as nobody really falls into the horribly offensive stereotype of loser virgins living in their mom's basement. Though admittedly anyone who's a fan of arcade games may feel slighted by the subplot of a former Frogger Champion trying to make a comeback that basically represents arcade gaming as ancient and extremely unpopular even though documentaries like King of Kong show otherwise.
My only big complaint about the movie is that a couple of jokes come at the expense of the plot actually making sense and not many but a few of the jokes are so cliched and tired they pretty much kill the momentum that the movie had going up to that point. Luckily the movie doesn't take long to pick up again. Bottom line, this was an extremely pleasant surprise and if you are looking for a decent comedy or even just a movie that treats gamers with a modicum of respect, this is a pretty good choice.