In one of the least covered genres, gamer films have been few and far between. Maybe it's because even with the proliferation of Xboxs, Playstation 3s and Wiis, that there's still negative stereotypes associated with them. Blake Freeman's "Noobz" makes a good attempt to bridge the gap between the images of the kids in commercials and the slacker neighbor next door who live for the high score.
Cody (Blake Freeman) is a hardcore gamer and a bit of a slacker with a very, very hot girlfriend. All that changes when he loses his real estate agent job during an open house (you don't even want to know what he's does to the complimentary snacks). He loses his girlfriend upon hearing the news. Luckily, his gaming pal Andy (Jason Mewes) is there to pick him up and along with their very closeted friend Oliver set out on a roadtrip to L.A. What brings them to Tinseltown? A Metal Gears championship with 6 figures of prize money. On their way to Hollywood, they pick up their only anonymous member code-named....Hollywood. Of course this turns out more like Teo 2.0 when he turns out to be Oliver (Matt Shively), a kid who carries around an oxygen tank to control his anxiety based asthma. Oliver's attachment to Hollywood is that his mom is being occasionally satisfied by everyone's favorite Starship Trooper, Caspar van Dien.
Others converging on this video game homage to "Over the Top" include Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite), as a former champion back when controllers were called joysticks and Zelda Williams (Daughter of Robin) as Rickie, Andy's online love interest. Of course, there's the arch nemesis team lead by the tween with a killer afro, Chomomma (Skylan Brooks).
If hardcore gamers were expecting a film where there would be players in the role of their favorite characters, then they'll be disappointed. Fact of the matter is, there's very little gaming in the film, save for the end. This is closer to a classic road trip film with a splash of Metal Gears thrown in for extra mileage. Director Blake Freeman may catch heat from some gamers, but should receive kudos from those who appreciate a good story. His friendship with Mewes shows in their onscreen chemistry. Although, some characters are underutilized such as Chomamma and Rickie, Freeman the writer gave Freeman the director a lot of laughs to mine from. Jon Gries is dynamite (pun intended) as a man not afraid to rock a baby tee and a mullet and it seems everyone was given a bit of free rein in improving. A bad director doesn't known when to say when, but Freeman knows a little goes a long way and it does from the opening scene until the end credits.
In another testament to how to do a lot with a little, the budget on this film wouldn't buy much of a house in Hollywood, but thanks to talented friends like Moises Arias, Rick Overton and Casper Van Dien (who is not afraid to poke fun at himself) and a very gracious licensing agreement with A-list corporations such as Microsoft and Sony, "Noobz" shows that with enough talent on hand, that even in your sophomore effort, you can look like anything but.
The DVD releases 1/29 and you'll be in for a major treat as you listen to the director and Jason Mewes do a commentary throughout the major scenes of the film in the DVD extras. Find out more how a film gets made and just how funny Jason and the rest of the cast are. To commemorate the DVD release, check out my interview with director Blake Freeman on 1/29.
Noobz - MPAA Rated R for language (yes, language). Running Time: 97 minutes. In limited release. DVD and On Demand on 1/29.