A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nerdland, a direct-to-streaming-and-DVD original animated comedy, is not for kids. The film is set in Los Angeles (Hollywood, specifically) and tells the story of a struggling actor and a failed writer who room together and decide to jumpstart their sagging careers by becoming instantaneously famous. Filled with exaggerated cartoon violence (slashing, stabbing, beatings, bloody corpses -- a one-minute "video" of cinema's most violent pretend scenes is the prize example), sexual moments (a central character trying to have sex with a vinyl blow-up doll, cartoon nudity, more big bosoms per square inch than a bikini-filled beach), and a penchant for obscenities ("f--k" in all forms), this is a movie strictly for fans of gross-out humor, on-the-nose parody, and beloved comic icons (Paul Rudd, Patton Oswalt, and Hannibal Buress) at their silliest.
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What's the story?
NERDLAND asks the 21st century Hollywood question: "How many ridiculous, fame-seeking adventures can two animated dimwits have on the mean streets of Movie-Land?" Down-and-out losers John Truman (Paul Rudd), a struggling, talentless actor, and Elliot Alexander (Patton Oswalt), a goofball with no skill but a burning desire to be a writer, are tired of failure. Epiphany for John! The two roommates just need "face time with America!" Instant Celebrity TODAY can launch their careers for TOMORROW! John and Elliot set out to be immediately recognizable, whatever it takes. Their ill-conceived, ill-fated odyssey takes them from efforts of heroism (a little old lady in a burning building is a fantastic opportunity!) to true victimhood (a brutal beating at the hands of police officers is just the ticket for that!) to planning a murderous slaughter of innocents in a killing frenzy... and all points in between. No horrific stone goes unturned; not even the sweetest of elderly neighbors is immune from deadly plotting; no shocking videos or porno tapes are off-limits as they struggle to turn themselves into folk heroes or superstars or, best of all, America's Most Wanted Wannabees.
Is it any good?
Despite inspired comic voice performances and inventive, off-beat animation, this low-budget, “hoping-for-cult-status” cartoon is uneven, and definitely inappropriate for kids and families. No doubt there's an audience for this movie -- for fans of broad satire combined with beyond-silly violence, cartoon blood-letting, burgeoning-bosomed ditzes, and references to enemas, diarrhea, farting, and masturbation, Nerdland offers an embarrassment of riches. And though it sometimes seems like forever between laughs, there are some true guffaws. The filmmakers, who probably had a great time putting this farce together, embrace the caricatures they've created without remorse (a tennis-playing tech tycoon -- called a Megasoft Fat Cat -- is only bested by The Nerd King (Hannibal Buress) with a collectible store from the land of the bizarre. Fun for some; tasteless, artless, and ridiculous for most.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the cartoon violence in Nerdland. Did you laugh at some of the many bloody, ferocious scenes in the film? Though obviously not as disturbing as serious, live-action brutality, do you agree with some educators and scientists who say that exposure to such material can desensitize people (especially children) to violence? Why or why not?
What is a "gross-out" comedy? What about this genre appeals to some audiences? Who do you think the filmmakers are trying to reach with this movie?
This film has "fun" with stereotypes (bubble-headed females who fawn over celebrities, a homeless man, law enforcement, an arrogant tech-type). Why is caricature more acceptable when it's done purposefully and with humor? Or isn't it more acceptable?
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