“The Angry Video Game Nerd,” for the uninitiated, is an online personality and character created by James Rolfe, who plays really bad vintage video games on his show usually by request of his fans. He then provides insightful commentary (along with excellent comedy) that also includes a lot of rage, anger, and bafflement as to how what he’s played could have ever been allowed for public consumption. “The Angry Video Game Nerd” is a wildly popular and influential online series that is mostly familiar to gamers and pop culture fans alike, so it’s wise that director James Rolfe takes the big screen debut of his beloved character, and broadens it to appeal to more general indie audiences alike. Director James Rolfe and Kevin Finn’s movie is still a niche comedy with loads of cult potential, but will also catch the eye of movie goers in the mood for meta-comedy, and an honest to goodness indie road trip film.
As a fan of the original web series and character for years, the movie was a long time coming, since co-director Rolfe built a world around the AVGN, as well as momentum that would open the door for an inevitable movie. He’s played endless amounts of terrible games, except for what is widely considered the worst: “E.T.” So a movie chronicling his attempts to garner a copy makes sense and is fodder for an entertaining adventure film in the vein of “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” and “Wayne’s World.” Since the film adaptation is based around a low budget, director/writers Rolfe and Finn skirt copyright infringement by presenting facsimiles of the titles he’s reviewed, especially “E.T.” now branded “Eee Tee.” Rolfe plays the titular nerd whose own online presence has turned him in to a bonafide hero among gamers and fellow nerds around the world. In an effort to promote the release of “Eee Tee 2,” (a purposely bad sequel to the original awful game) video game company representative Mandi, plans to lure in The Nerd to play and bash the game.
This will ironically act as an actual endorsement to his fans. Now that bashing games has become an excuse to re-discover the awful titles, the company wants to misuse The Nerd’s influence. The Nerd is angered by his newfound ability to turn people on to bad games, and with his loyal partner/cameraman Cooper, heads to Mexico to disprove the myth of the landfill of Atari games, in hopes of also turning his fans off of the sequel. While there, The Nerd mistakenly becomes the target of government officials, all of whom have hidden secrets within the Atari game that they’re convinced he’s discovered. Thankfully Rolfe and Finn seem to understand how to adjust the original show for fans, and turn the feature length film in to a fun, funny, and unique pop culture fest, that’s also an extended episode from the character. Rolfe seems to have a good time in the skin of the Nerd, playing him as a cynic who slowly realizes that his conspiracy theorist sidekick Cooper may be on to something with his wild theories about reality.
Rolfe is helped by great supporting performances by Jeremy Suarez and Sarah Glendening, both of whom act as foils and aides for the character of the Nerd, playing very well off of Rolfe’s character, and helping to transform him in to more of an inadvertent hero. Fans hoping for nods to past episodes and the like will be pleased to see that Rolfe and Finn leave no stone unturned. There are cameos from other popular online and cult personalities, subtle homages to classic science fiction and action films, and very clever special effects. Rolfe works within the confines of the low budget providing strong miniature work and puppetry that are truly charming and never distract from the pacing and action. Rolfe (a hardcore movie buff) alongside Finn, obviously know how to tell a gripping and entertaining story, mixing all kinds of sub-genres in to one really fun reward for the loyal fans of the “Angry Video Game Nerd.” If the film isn’t proof enough of Rolfe’s love for his fans, stay for the closing credits. You won’t regret it.