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Zero Charisma

Year: 2013
Production Co: Magic Stone Productions
Director: Katie Graham/Andrew Matthews
Writer: Andrew Matthews
Cast: Sam Eidson, Garrett Graham

Lesson number one about a film might not quite be to give you hero some redeeming features, but it must come close.

If you're making a film about antiheroes like Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle, The French Connection's Popeye Doyle or Oldboy's Oh Dae Su, the film succeeds or fails on their quest to right a wrong greater than any wrong they themselves commit, which is what makes us identify with them despite ourselves (if not like them altogether).

The problem with Scott (Sam Eidson) is that when all's said and done, he doesn't face any redemption and become a better man. The very model of a nerd, he's portrayed as an overweight loser living in his grandmother's house who enjoys the power of leading a Dungeons and Dragons-style weekly game among his equally nerdy friends. When his position at the pinnacle of his tiny world is upset, you keep waiting for Scott to realise the error of his ways after the inevitable struggle against it. But no – he's just a loser tearing embarrassing posters off the wall of a bedroom that looks like it belongs to a kid ten years younger.

Instead of growing, Scott wages war against newcomer Miles (Garrett Graham) when the latter joins the group and starts usurping his position. Miles is everything Scott isn't. He's a comic book artist, he knows about pop culture like Scott and his minions never could, and even lives with a girl. Scott lives in his ailing grandmother's house, a no-nonsense woman with no more illusions than you'll have about what an idiot he is. (And for the record, he's not an idiot because he plays a fantasy board game, he's an idiot because he doesn't realise the little fiefdom of his fantasy board game isn't the whole world.)

Instead of giving Scott an arc, the movie seems instead to just play on any number of easy (and slightly outdated – wouldn't this story be set around a videogame console nowadays?) caricatures and gags about the kind of people in it. And it might seem to be asking a little much to wonder where the character development is in a movie like this, but in not giving Scott anywhere to grow, it's a mean spirited story about a loser who never understands what a loser he is.

A subplot about his money-grubbing mother coming back into the picture only shows how slight the rest of the premise is.

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