Sunday, April 17, 2016

Talking Tribeca: Nerdland

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 13th-24th.

Directed by Chris Prynoski
Festival Screenings

R-rated animated films tend to get a lot of press because they’re not too common. Many times, they tell very adult stories with an amplified meaning due to the fact that their stories play out without live actors and take advantage of creative backdrops and other animation techniques. While a number of these films, like “Anomalisa” and “Waltz with Bashir,” are regarded as mature and accomplished, others, such as “Team America: World Police,” skew to a more uncensored and entertainment-prone audience. “Nerdland” definitely falls into the latter category.

John (Paul Rudd) and Elliot (Patton Oswalt) are good friends living together in Los Angeles trying - and failing - to make a go at being famous. John is an actor, and Elliot is a screenwriter, and neither have found success. This film finds the two of them at the most desperate point, coming up with terrible idea after terrible idea to truly make their mark. This wild, unfiltered adventure takes them them through their worst idea yet, to achieve eternal infamy by becoming notorious and feared killers. Predictably, this plan can’t go that well, but John and Elliot are at their rope’s end and are going to do what they can to make it big somehow.

There is an enormous amount of talent associated with this film, and like any good animated film, part of the fun is identifying which voices belong to which actors. Rudd and Oswalt are cast as characters whose physical appearances more closely mirror the other actor’s body type and demeanor. It’s obvious that these two friends are having a good time doing something different. Also in the cast are Hannibal Buress, Mike Judge, Kate Micucci, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, and Reid Scott, all of whom work together well to create a fully absurd film with a number of colorful characters.

Throughout its short 85-minute runtime, it’s often hard to distinguish between a solid and legitimate plot development and a completely crazy and stupid one, and that’s what makes this one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Some humor can be described as crude, while other moments might simply be termed parody, or even likened to a complex comedic examination of society. I don’t imagine that a film with a title like “Nerdland” has such high aspirations, but this film is more fun and memorable than it could have been.


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