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Fame at all costs – Nerdland (2016)

You know what grinds my ears? Animated films that try so hard to be #edgy, but end up #crap.

Cartoons possess a genuine notion of a children’s mind, that allow them to display much deeper problems, whilst still remain highly entertaining. “Nerdland” aimed for such deeper meaning, but it got totally lost on the way. As the title genuinely suggests, the protagonists of the film are two nerds, who strive to become famous. They are ready to do truly everything – from getting beaten up by cops on a video to anything else that crosses their minds.

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In the beginning, I really sympathized with the creators of “Nerdland”. Its murky, greenish palette, foul-mouthed characters and open obscenity – all seemed like grounds for an explicit, intelligent animated satire. Heck, even at the halfway point, I was still ready to defend it. Even though the story seemed like a stretched pilot for a TV series aimed at fans of “BoJack Horseman” or “Family Guy”, I still believed that Chris Prynoski has something up his sleeve.

I came undone only after the very end of “Nerdland”. Not only does it mark a complete lack of consistency with the rest of the film, but most importantly – it proves that there was no clear direction from the start. “Nerdland” never intended to be something more than a nerdy small-budget thingy, made for a few laughs for a bunch of buddies drinking beer together. It’s a bummer, especially considering the talents credited. Paul Rudd might not be an A-list actor, but I sympathize with his chill attitude and intelligence. I also consider myself an ardent fan of Hannibal Buress, who also figured on the list. They both can do incredibly good in comedy and both possess very characteristic voices (talking about voices, Patton Oswalt also appears in “Nerdland”).

Yet, “Nerdland” is lacking an apparent reason for its existence. Its characters serve as stereotypes of Hollywood underachievers – they dream about having big-breasted, dull dollies, cheap fame and… not much apart from that. What’s more, they are supposed to defend the ultimate truth about friendship – whatever happens, they stick together. So in order to reach their goal, they are ready for all sorts of sacrifice. Their path is therefore full of terrible ideas – from getting beat up by police to a pulp, to a total escalation in which they wish to become famous killers. Obviously, it is a rather perturbing warning – yes, these guys are likeable, but their minds, twisted by fame-craving, changes them into brainwashed figures, victims of the dream-collapsing Hollywood. As much truthful and depressing as it is, Prynoski never manages to display it properly.

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Why? Such problem exists only for a minute, because the director is more interested in “EDGY, SUPER EDGY” jokes and a kind of “vicinity of obscenity”. Apart from several brilliant references to pop culture – like the one with Bane breaking Batman’s spine in a police beat-up scene – there is tons of gross, out-of-the-blue images. For example, there is a crocodile cutting of its gigantic penis with K-pop in the background. Need more? You will see the rectum of one of the main characters – more than once. Even if it all serves a certain purpose, such concepts don’t help to paint a satirical picture of modern American dream. It is more of a “wtf and why am I watching” kind of film than “hey, that is actually deep – if you think about it”.

In the end, “Nerdland” doesn’t deserve to become a cult movie, nor it deserves any more incarnations or even attention. It should remain as a wasted potential, reminding that R-rated films need something more than penises, sex references and a loosely structured plot. If you want to go full-Deadpool, prepare something much more convincing. Or even more edgy.

06-nerdland-poster.nocrop.w529.h835Nerdland (2016)

Dir. Chris Prynoski

Cast: Paul Rudd, Patton Oswald, Hanibal Buress

Hate Grade: 6.5/10

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