J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Tribeca ’16: Nerdland

Hollywood really does make people dumber. John and Elliot are the animated proof. The aspiring actor and screenwriter are so desperate for fame they will eventually do something stupid enough to achieve it. Celebrity culture gets the crude, lewd satire it so richly deserves in Chris Prynorski’s Nerdland (trailer here), which screens during this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

When they are not sleeping or self-gratifying themselves, which is most of the time, John and Elliot yearn for stardom. Their desperation has long since crossed the line, becoming counterproductive. John’s humiliation at a press junket, involving a massively awkward script pitch and a split pair of trousers (and underwear) is only the latest example.

Unfortunately, making it in Hollywood will be the only way they will ever score with shallow mall bimbos Sally and Linda. Bizarrely, they think their lottery number had come in when they witness a would-be supervillain’s latest robbery, but they do not think things through very far, because they are idiots.

The dirty little secret of Nerdland is the ridiculously idiotic lads are probably only too true to life. Regardless, they should be no confusion regarding the level Prynorski and screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker are pitching the humor. This is strictly meathead, horndog kind of stuff. Frankly, in a world where South Park, Team America, Ted, and Hell and Back exist, the stakes for leering, foul-mouthed animation have raised considerably. However, Prynorski and his well-known voice cast consistently get respectably-sized dumb laughs—and dumb they most certainly are, that is the whole point.

The fact that Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt are actually funny voicing the dim-witted duo really distinguishes Nerdland from the rest of their work. There are also aptly colorful vocal contributions from Mike Judge, Laraine Newman, Charlene Yi, and Hannibal Buress.

With a name like Nerdland, you might automatically think of Birdland the club or the Weather Report tune, but it is most likely a reference to the original Hollywoodland sign its characters would be unlikely to get. Still, for the most part, it is hard not to get Nerdland. We are talking low, naughty humor here, but there is a place for that, especially in a year when Tribeca has programmed so many un-midnight-like movies in the midnight session. Here at least is a film that should allow viewers to get a little raucous during its screenings. Recommended accordingly, Nerdland screens again tomorrow (4/16), Tuesday (4/19), Wednesday (4/20), and Sunday (4/24) as part of this year’s Tribeca.

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