Despite positioning itself as a Napoleon Dynamite-style comedy about a spazzy social retard, Splinterheads seems to have misplaced most of its jokes. Brant Sersen’s film dutifully adheres to outcast-makes-good formula with its story of Justin (Thomas Middleditch), a doofus living at home with his widowed mom (Lea Thompson) and working alongside his crude landscaper best friend Wayne (Jason Rogel). After being scammed by a hot tattooed blonde named, ahem, Galaxy (Rachael Taylor) at the local gas station, Justin finds himself—in a typical bit of fantasy nonsense—knee-deep in romance with the sexy grifter. It turns out that Galaxy works at the local fair, though she isn’t just an ordinary carny but, rather, a hustler known as a splinterhead, albeit one who has plenty of time to ditch work and go geocaching, which is a super-cool GPS treasure hunting game. Aside from trying to mainstream the terms “splinterhead” and “geocaching,” Sersen’s directorial debut has no purpose, following a narrative template so moldy that its employment would only be excusable if some humor were present. Regrettably, aside from two early scenes with a wacko carnival magician known as the Amazing Steve (Jason Mantzoukas) and his equally weird assistant/lover Wyoming (Lennon Parham), there isn’t a single element that warrants so much as a pity smile. Middleditch in particular seems unsure of how to play this material, with his character’s awkwardness routinely dialed down to the point of nonexistence in an effort to facilitate a relationship between Justin and Galaxy that lacks chemistry and plausibility. From a 116-year-old grandpa offering Justin condoms, to Justin wearing wet see-through boxers and Christopher McDonald’s cop pining for Justin’s mother, Splinterheads piles on scenes and subplots that barely have a beginning, middle, or end, much less a pulse. Though when it comes to being unfunny, nothing quite tops Sersen giving more screen time to a host of derogatory comments about Asians than to The Wire alum par excellence Frankie Faison.
- 94 min
- Brant Sersen
- Brant Sersen
- Thomas middleditch, Rachael Taylor, Lea Thompson, Christopher McDonald, Dean Winters, Frankie Faison, Jason Mantzoukas, Lennon Parham, Jason Rogel
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