A big fragging disappointment
What works: The accuracy of simple details that many movies and TV shows often overlook is refreshing.
What doesn’t work: Unfunny jokes, a trite plot, and uninspired acting prevent the movie from fulfilling its intended purpose as a comedy for the gaming community.
If the modern media landscape were a comedy club, video games would be Rodney Dangerfield. Gaming culture typically gets little respect from other forms of media, and after years of being mocked, marginalized, and stereotyped, gamers have come to expect it. Movies and TV shows that truly seem to understand gaming culture are so few and far between, gamers have dropped their standards, allowing a primetime sitcom’s incorrect reference to an N64 to be considered a great accomplishment of mainstream acceptance. So, when a clever, well-acted comedy that “captures gamer culture from the inside” comes along, it’s something of which all gamers should be proud. Unfortunately, noobz is not that movie.
Written by Blake Freeman and Marvin Willson, noobz is the story of four quirky underdogs and their quest to win an MLG-style Gears of War III tournament and its $400,000 grand prize. Hindered by an unimaginative script, Jason Mewes (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) manages a fine performance, shining brightest when he appears to improvise. Although brief, cameos by Adam Sessler, Bill Bellamy, and Casper Van Dien are the only other highlights in terms of acting. Sadly, the performances of the remaining cast are abysmal, lacking any sense of wit, expression, or comic timing.
As a male with an affinity for video games, drinking, vulgarity, and immature humor, I believe myself to be among the movie’s target audience. However, while noobz bills itself as “by gamers, for gamers”, it misses the mark by a long shot, often copping out with easy jokes that appear to laugh at, rather than with, gamer culture. Actually, nearly all of the humor in noobz is based on stereotypes, be it gender, racial, sexual, or cultural. When approached correctly, this type humor can be edgy and hilarious, but in noobz it simply falls flat. It isn’t that the jokes about the sassy black kid or the sexually confused guy are offensive, they’re simply not funny, lazily using the subject matter as a crutch to get a laugh, rather than writing original material.
Despite its egregious flaws as a comedy, noobz does succeed where many mainstream movies and TV shows grossly fail. Terms such as “spawn”, “clan match”, and “gamertag” are used casually and correctly. The controllers and headsets worn by characters properly correspond to their console. Even the body language displayed while playing games is accurate, forgoing the elbows-together-controller-held-up-to-eye-level pose that most actors display on TV and in movies. The only obvious insight into gaming culture that did feel highly inaccurate was the notion that retro games and all who play them are unpopular and aggressively uncool. Furthermore, in reality, the majority of gamers I know don’t actually consider themselves to be “cyber athletes”. Mewes’s character’s continual references to the latter just comes off as pandering.
Noobz is essentially a straight to DVD American Pie spin-off in which nudity is replaced by video games. In terms of accuracy, noobz does succeed where a majority of popular, mainstream TV shows and movies fail. Unfortunately, despite this strength, this film is done in by lazy comedy, predictable storytelling, and subpar acting. Gaming culture deserves better.
Noobz will be available on DVD Friday, January 25th.