A high school film student (Matt Prokop) makes a documentary about a self-absorbed popular girl (Sarah Hyland), but discovers there is more to her than meets the eye.
Directed by: Jeffrey Hornaday
Most modern Disney Channel movies are aimed at kids between eight and sixteen, so most of us will find their entertainment, at best, mildly amusing. Most of the time, it is loud, annoying, and obnoxious, much like tweens themselves. For their part, The House of Mouse will sometimes surprise me with their Disney Channel movies, giving us a film that manages to entertain kids without causing me to roll my eyes back into my head.
The latest made-for-Disney Channel offering, Geek Charming, won’t win any Emmys, but it will keep those tweens from texting each other for 90 minutes. Parents will also be able to sit through it without pulling their hair out. Despite its focus on the importance of being popular and shopping without restraint, it then turns that on its head by showing the importance of being yourself and having real friends. It is a nice message, and the youg ctors do a good job of making it all work.
The problem I have wth the film lies in the choice (or lack thereof) of a good protagonist. The film is told from the perspective of Hyland’s character of Dylan, which is not the most sympathetic character. In fact, you spend most of the film resenting her for her treatment of film-nerd Josh (played by Prokop). The director and writers obviously know this, because they take the effort to show us Dylan’s sensitive side several times. Since this was a film aimed at girls, Josh would have made a far better protagonist: someone to sympathize with, and a more likeable character overall. Later in the film, the focs does shift more to Josh and his problems, so obviously the filmmakers had the same idea.
Even so, while the movie really smells like teen spirit, it does manage some funny moments thanks to the supporting cast. Hyland does eventually make a connection with the viewer as she reveals more of her character. The film pulls a lot of corny jokes and high school cliches abound, especially with the climax at a school dance with some sort of prom queen-like title on the line. Eveyone – and I mean everyone – ends up with someone, and good feelings abound. Young girls are guaranteed to say “Awwwww” at least four times at the end of the movie.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video image is surprisingly soft, even for a standard DVD. There did not seem to be much detail, and it almost appears as if the video was recorded second generation form a broadcast source. Colors are stil strong, and perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Blu-ray, but I expected a better image than this as I watched it on a 46 inch Samsung HDTV. The audio is solid, but it is only a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. It gets the job done for a film with a lot of talking, but do not expect a layered, multi channel experience. Since this was not a musical, I guess Disney decided it didn’t need an expensive mix.
You do not get any special features related to the movie itself, unless you count the “Best Friends” 2-piece charm that comes with each DVD. I don’t know why it is included, as it does not show up in the movie (as far as I remember). What you do get is ten episodes of the Disney Channel show “Shake It Up.” The shows are a random sampling from the past three seasons, and chances are if your kid is watching the DIsney Channel, they have seen this show at least once. Unfortunately, the show is a horribly contrived, unfunny comedy with a bad laugh track that reminds me of the worst sit-coms of the 1980s. As a reviewer, I should have watched all ten, but I could not. I tried, but I could only make it through several. Sorry, Disney. I had to keep my soul from being crushed.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Overall Grade: B
Geek Charming is a decent tween film and fits right in with the type of programming you see today on The Disney Channel. The young actors are engaging enough without annoying you to death, and the story has a few good laughs and a nice message. The movie just is not good enough to warrant a purchase, which is probably why ten episodes of “Shake It Up” are included. Still, if you need a decent movie to show your tween, Geek Charming is worth a rent.
Geek Charming is now available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.