So this is a movie I'm already inclined to like. It's a by-the-numbers buddy comedy in which two screw-ups, the straight-laced Danny (Paul Rudd) and the amiable slacker Wheeler (Sean Michael Scott) make a series of bad decisions (but really, who hasn't gone berserk and driven a minotaur-shaped pickup truck onto a statue of a horse?) that end with them estranged from Danny's girlfriend (the scrumptiously omnipresent Elizabeth Banks) and having to do something zany or go to jail. In this case, they are assigned to be mentors to two young rejects - a black kid with a mouth as foul as the Jersey shore, and a nerd who retreats from the world into "L.A.I.R.E." - a live action boffer larp.
I leave you to guess which one with which I identified.
The story is a workmanlike comedy with good gags and likeable, engaging characters. What really makes it shine is the crazy performances by the supporting cast, like Jane Lynch, who plays the reformed-addict-turned-kids-counsellor that assigns the buddies to their "littles". She steals every scene she's in with wild, loopy asides and crazed metaphors that circle back in on themselves in mad self-satisfied flourishes.
Similarly, Ken Jeong (aka Dr. Ken, who is I first saw in this truly hilariously atrocious video ) delivers a subtly genius madness as "King Argotron" in L.A.I.R.E, the evil foil who makes young Bluffkin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, best known as "McLovin") miserable.
Predictably, Danny and Wheeler make mistakes with their young wards, setting up their journey of self-discovery. The nerdy world of LARP is treated with a surprising amount of love, and even rigidly mundane Danny throws himself whole-heartedly into the action.
The story isn't what makes this a good movie - the story is as formulaic as they get. It's the charming, weird patter between the charming weird characters, it's the un-selfconscious dorkiness of McLovin and his allies and foes in LAIRE, it's the loopy departures by the supporting cast members. I liked it, I laughed a lot, I was surprised here and there by inspired madness, and blushed more than a little when I saw myself in young Bluffkin.
If you're a nerd (particularly a boy nerd) trying to date a non-nerd mate, this might make a great date movie to make your eccentric hobbies seem less weird and more charming. And speaking of which, Dying Kingdoms is this weekend, for anyone interested in getting in some LAIRE-style larp action! (Yes, that's me on one of the photos. Shut up, it's awesome.)