Up front I will say this: Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is a triumph. James Rolfe and Kevin Finn managed to produce a funny, action-packed, heartfelt feature-length love letter to nostalgia, fandom, and film. They did it with a criminally low budget (provided by crowd funding), using sheer creativity. A LOT goes on in this movie. The fact that it is at all coherent is impressive. The fact that it all makes sense, connects, and keeps you engaged, is astounding.
I’ve looked up to James Rolfe and his bitter gamer character for just about five years now. He really is the guy I forgot I wanted to be. A filmmaker doing things on his terms with a devoted following. His work, including non AVGN material, inspired me the way nothing else had since discovering Kevin Smith. This is a dude with a unique voice I identify 100%, doing the work I’d been dreaming of. Make no mistake, my Reggie Retro character exists because of James Rolfe.
When he first announced the AVGN movie, I thought there was no way it was going to happen. When his crowd funding campaigns started, I assumed he’d fall short. When he made far more than he’d been hoping for, I stopped doubting. That was the moment I realized his character touched the hearts of more people than I could fathom. From that moment on I was totally invested in every detail about the movie project.
If you’ve never heard of the Angry Video Game Nerd, watch this trailer. It does an awesome job of setting up who the character is as well as the film’s plot. Not to mention revving you up.
There are so many insane ideas getting tossed around in this movie that a few million dollars wouldn’t even do it justice. Just wait until you hear the explanation behind how and why the game cartridges were created. If considering the balls it took for them to even entertain the possibility of translating that to screen doesn’t wow you, the fun of the adventure will.
Of course it isn’t perfect. Like I said the budget was small. While most of the actors are pretty solid, you do have the occasional weak extra. The plot is so full that it sags every now and again. The jokes which break the fourth wall sometimes feel out of place and intrusive. A lot of the green screen is terrible. Some of the miniatures and puppets are really cheap. All of this is to be expected given their limitations, and I feel like a dick for mentioning it. Besides, everything else is done SO well, and they manage to make it part of the experience as opposed to taking away from it. For every bad effect there are dozens of seamless ones. And that puppet, voiced by the always awesome Robbie Rist, is fucking hilarious.
Most genre independent films settle for whatever music they can get. James and Kevin got the genius behind Battlestar Galactica’s incredible score because he was a fan. Bear Mcreary’s score is part sweeping symphony, part 8-bit epic, and completely badass. He really elevates the entire project. Can’t wait to pick up the soundtrack.
Maybe one of the best compliments you can give a movie like this is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan. The characters are relatable, the plot keeps moving, the jokes land well, and the heart of it is so pure that anyone can enjoy.
There is so much I could say about the movie. Pages and pages of love for it could follow. Yet it all boils down to the same thing, so I’ll keep it simple and stop repeating myself. The movie is so worth your time. You won’t regret it. Please watch. Laugh. And maybe be inspired.
Over at cinemassacre.com you can learn a lot about James and his love of movies. Instead of a journal he has home made short films essentially chronicling his entire life. Watching him mature as an artist has been a wholly satisfying experience. One I could only hope to emulate. He went from a kid making quirky movies in his basement to achieving a dream, and becoming a hero to thousands.