Hoping that his novel brings him fame and fortune, high school loner Benjamin Purvis (Michael Angarano) attends a fantasy writers conference and later discovers that his masterwork has been plagiarized by an iconic author (Jemaine Clement, “Flight of the Conchords”). Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2, Matchstick Men), Jennifer Coolidge and Mike White also star in this quirky comedy from co-writer-director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre).
7 out of 10
You have to be patient to appreciate Jared Hess. The jokes are non-stop, but they’re not the kind that make you roll on the floor every second. They more make you chuckle to yourself or smile. It’s subtle but delightful. Hess makes character pictures, and while this one is not as good as 2004’s “Napoleon Dynamite,” it certainly is a fun, entertaining movie.
There are very strange but funny vignettes where we are taken into the book Benjamin is writing about aliens removing a man’s testicles, killer deer who fly and shoot missiles and eat yeast that make them fly. Oddly enough, it works. Benjamin is a tightly wound boy with an overtly odd mother who designs insane clothing. His escape from life is his fantasy writing. When he crosses paths with his hero, Dr. Ronald Chevalier, the man who ultimately steals his work, the story takes off nicely. Clement owns this role and brings a straight-faced delivery that made me roll laughing. He made the movie, as did Rockwell.
But, like I said, the gut-busting laughs are few and far between in Hess films, but everything in between — the character development, fantasy and side characters — are like the strawberry and vanilla in Neapolitan ice cream. You’ve got to get through them until you get to the chocolate, but it’s still enjoyable.