“Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie” Impressions

by Gabriel Turcotte-Dubé

I saw the Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie international premiere last weekend, which was presented at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a feature film based on a web show, but overall, I had a good time. The movie is off course full of “gaming culture” jokes and self-referential humor, but it’s first and foremost a love letter to campy 80s and 90s movies. It reminded me specifically of all those comedy TV shows turned into grand adventure movies: The Flintstones, Beavis and Butthead, Wayne’s World, Mr Bean, and Alf.

The movie starts with the nerd getting constant requests from his fans to review the infamous E.T. (or, as it’s called in the movie for legal reasons, “Eee Tee”) Atari game, which he firmly refuses to do. He decides to debunk once and for all the rumor saying that thousands of E.T. cartridges are buried in the desert believing people will stop talking about the game if that story is proven false (When in fact, that rumor was proven to be true mere months before the movie’s release!). But when his investigation leads him to uncover a way bigger conspiracy involving secret services, aliens, and more it’s up to the nerd and his friends to save the day!

This crazy scenario is the perfect excuse to have car pursuits, laser gun fights, giant robots and tons of explosions. There is very little CGI; almost all special effects are homemade practical effects. Although the scope of the AVGN movie is a lot bigger than the web series it came from, it still keeps the same simple, humble, unpretentious aura of something that was filmed just for the fun of it. And like the web series, it manages to add some bits of trivia about videogame history in-between jokes, especially with respect to the making of the E.T. game (there’s even a cameo of its creator!). Even when jokes fall flat and the story goes in odd directions, you can’t help but smile seeing the craftsmanship and passion that went into this project.

All that being said, I’m not sure if it’s a “good” movie, but even if I was skeptical at first, it kept me entertained for its whole duration. It might be cliché, but I’m tempted to say “turn your brain off and you will enjoy it.” It’s campy and stupid fun, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. The movie is never too self-conscious or satirical either; its creators obviously have a genuine love for B-movies and wanted to create their own by parodying the genre more than mocking it.

Sadly, the nerd himself James Rolfe could not be there for the screening, but co-writer and co-director Kevin Finn was present to answer some questions along with producer Sean Keegan. They talked briefly about their experience working on a crowdfunded production and the challenges of making a special effects heavy movie on a budget of only $300k. Of course, they were asked about a potential sequel to the AVGN movie. They did not close the door on it, but understandably they said they are not ready to think about it yet and would prefer to work on something different at the moment. Whatever is next, they have my attention.

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