Reviewed by: Kirsten Palmer
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
October 26, 2012 (wide—2,800+ theaters)
DVD: February 19, 2013
“Let’s get this search party started.”
Halloween, many children’s favorite day of the year, is a time for candy, parties and pranks. For Wren (Victoria Justice), it’s no big deal until Aaron Riley (Thomas McDonnell) invites her to his party. Wren and her best friend April (Jane Levy) then try to find good costumes, because, according to statistics that April has read, wearing the right costume can improve your popularity by thirty something percent. April keeps suggesting sexy this or sexy that, but Wren decides on a simple Dorothy costume, because she already has the outfit. However, Wren’s plans get derailed when her mother (Chelsea Handler), recently widowed, has accepted an invitation from her new, much younger boyfriend to attend a party with him and needs Wren to watch her little brother.
Wren’s little brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) hasn’t spoken in a year, since the loss of their father, but he still manages to cause mischief and mayhem wherever he goes. While out trick or treating with the ever sneaky Albert managing to take the whole stash of candy from every house they visit, April keeps trying to find a way to ditch Albert, so she and Wren can attend Aaron Riley’s party.
After Albert gets caught taking the whole bowl beside the sign that says “take only one,” Wren has to apologize to the man and then warns Albert the next house—set up to be a haunted house—will be the last house, then they’re going home, and he’s going to bed. The three enter the haunted house where Wren and April meet up with the school “nerds” Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau). Roosevelt has been nursing a secret crush on Wren and is trying to make a good impression on her. When Wren looks up to check on Albert, though, she finds he’s missing.
Wren and April start looking everywhere for Albert, checking all his favorite places, while Albert has adventures of his own helping a convenience store clerk get revenge on a former girlfriend and a bully. To look faster, Wren and April believe they could find Albert quickly if they could look for him in a car, instead of walking all over Cleveland. Wren convinces Roosevelt to borrow his mothers” car, and then they proceed to try to find Albert, while April keeps insisting they look for Albert at Aaron Riley’s party, and Peng keeps trying to flirt with April. Meanwhile, Wren’s mother goes to the party, expecting something more grown up, but it turns out it’s more like a college-aged or young twenties group of people partying wildly.
Objectionable Content (and there’s quite a bit):
This movie had such potential. There’s a good story here, but it’s polluted with how Hollywood insists most people behave and talk. We see Albert sitting on the toilet, wearing practically nothing, and you hear the plop. Other times, we see Albert in nothing but his underwear. When we meet the mother’s boyfriend, he comes in wearing only his boxers and picks her up and sets her on the counter and the visual is they’re about to… well, you get the picture, and all this while in the room with both the teenage daughter and the young son. There’s so much emphasis on the costumes need to be sexy, April wants to be a sexy kitty or a sexy mouse because you have to be sexy to be invited to the popular kids” parties. While Wren and Roosevelt are discussing their nerdy costume ideas, the image of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice is shown in lingerie. In the scene where Wren asks Roosevelt if he could get them some wheels, he looks to his friend Peng who encourages him to say yes by pumping his hips, indicating that if you do this you might get to have sex with her.
During the party the mom attends, she is sitting on a couch trying to call Wren and see how every thing’s going when the boyfriend’s friend sits on the couch next to her and passes gas into her phone. Also, on that same couch, there is a girl in a sexy red costume sitting in someone’s lap, and it appears they’re… well, you get the picture again. When Wren and the group go to a pirate chicken restaurant that is one of Albert’s favorite places to visit, there’s a mishap and the giant chicken on top of the restaurant falls off, lands on top of the car in such a way that it looks like it’s having sex with the car. April wants to get out of there, and tries to climb out the windows. I missed something from this conversation, but there is a negotiation between April and Peng that if he let her do something (I think if he let her leave), she would let him feel her boobs, and they negotiate the terms of how long, and he insists it be on a cold day.
Albert goes to what appears to be a bar with an older girl, again dressed in a sexy costume, and they are dirty dancing at the club until a bully comes and takes Albert’s candy stash from him. Later, April calls Wren from Aaron Riley’s party saying “he’s here,” making Wren believe she means Albert (she intentionally misleads her and later admits it was intentional). At this party, we get several close up shots of April’s chest as Peng decides to claim her promise. He chickens out, but she grabs his hand and puts it on her boob and tells him “no honking.” Later, to save Albert and Wren from the cops, we see Fuzzy strip down naked and go streaking down the road to divert the cops’ attention to him. We see him from the back running, and I can’t remember if they blurred it out or if you could see clearly.
As for language, I counted at least “For Chr_st’s sake” (1), OMG (2), God, sh_t (4), cr_p (3)—including “Holy cr_p!”, b__bs, d__n, “what the hell” (2), b_tch (3), and a__ (5).
Other deplorable behavior includes the mom blackmailing Wren to watch her brother. Wren wants to attend NYU, but needs her mom to sign the financial aid forms. The mom says watch your brother tonight, and I’ll sign the forms tomorrow. While narrating at the beginning, Wren refers to Aaron Riley as a “god.” You may have noticed in my review I mentioned Wren wanting Roosevelt to borrow his moms” car. That wasn’t a typo, he has two moms. Also, later in the film, after Aaron Riley serenades Wren and then acts like he’s waiting for a kiss, she decides she’d rather go after Roosevelt. After she leaves, he turns to the crowd and declares his heart broken, so who wants to kiss him? Every girl and one guy raise their hand. We see the candy stealing, also Fuzzy’s ex-girlfriend stealing, bully drinking and driving and then smashing the empty liquor bottle on the road. For revenge against this bully, Fuzzy brings a bag of dog poo to leave on the front step for the bully… but Albert’s fireworks turns the bag into a poo bomb. There’s not much violence, but there is a scene with an old fashioned duel between Peng with his musket versus a teen bully with a chicken drumstick. Also, after the poo bomb explosion, the bully grabs Albert and locks him in a closet.
The redeeming(?) quality of this movie is the story that’s hidden by the filth. A family, broken-hearted over the loss of a good husband and father, is dealing with life as best they can and trying to move on. Wren has plans to attend NYU like her father did, but she has to survive living with her crazy family first. When her brother goes missing, Wren is devastated and sincerely wants to find him… not just to avoid punishment. You can tell that they have the typical sibling stuff, he annoys her, but you still know she loves him. I don’t want to give away too much, but she does offer up a huge sacrifice to try to save her brother.
I do not recommend this film for younger kids, even if they’re big Victoria Justice fans. This film is rated PG-13, and for this day and age I think that’s an appropriate rating.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
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