II seldom post reviews from professional publications but I felt that the movie described below, Noobz, deserved some helpful criticism on its terribly reactionary handling of Gamer identities.
“Many gamers like to think of themselves as intelligent, well-rounded individuals who simply enjoy the medium of interactive entertainment. While plenty of us fit that description, there is a loud minority of obnoxious idiots that undoubtedly exists in our hobby. If you’ve spent any time at gaming stores, competitions, or conventions, you’ve met the type. Picture the worst possible example of this personality type that you’ve ever seen. He’s probably wearing an ironic gaming shirt (example: “I’d Hit That” under the image of a question-mark block). He frequently engages in obscenity-filled, all-caps arguments about which console is superior. He yells “get back in the kitchen” jokes to women who have the gall to enter the ranks of online gaming. “Pwn” is one of his most frequently used words. His gamertag is an unintelligible mashing of X’s, alternating upper and lower-case letters, and the number 69. Take that guy and boil all of the unbearable elements of his personality into a script that inexplicably gets turned into a feature-length movie. That movie is Noobz.
This abomination of a film wastes no time in letting you know exactly how unfunny and uninspired it is. A joke about banging someone’s mom shows up within seconds of the opening titles. Characters unironically fist bump and call each other “bro” at an alarming pace that never lets up.
We’re supposed to root for the four players in the “Reign” clan as they travel to a Gears of War 3 competition, despite the fact that none of them are anywhere close to likable. Our protagonist is Cody, a gaming-obsessed real-estate agent who plays online under the name RumPULL4Skinz. When he skips out on work to play a clan match on Gears of War 3, he understandably loses his job. His ample-bosomed wife is (again, understandably) upset, which Cody chalks up to it being “that time of the month.” His wife says she’s starting to suspect that Cody is gay because he likes video games more than sex. One “I hope your video game can grow a vagina” insult later, and she’s out the door.
Cody is uniformly detestable, especially towards any woman that dares interact with him. When he’s introduced to a fellow clan member’s girlfriend, Cody threatens to throw her into a river within 10 seconds of meeting her. He then warns her not to use her “va-jay-jay” or “muffin” in an effort to undermine their clan’s championship aspirations.
Jason Mewes (troubled star of numerous Kevin Smith movies) plays Andy, a nonsense-spewing idiot who plays under the handle of Pr3daTurD. Director and writer Blake Freeman (who plays Cody) seems to want the audience to view Andy as the sympathetic heart of the film, but this attempt fails as miserably as every other aspect of the movie. For some unexplained reason, an attractive, sane young woman (played by Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin) is romantically interested in Andy. This gripping romance comes to a head in the film’s climax, which I’ll get to a bit later.
Then there’s Oliver. Oliver is one of the more redeemable characters in the film, yet he’s the target of constant insults from his clan buddies. Fitting directly in line with the rest of the film’s sense of humor, the reason he’s made fun of is his perceived homosexuality. Subtlety isn’t the strong point of Noobz, as Oliver is seen prancing around in tube tops, applying lipstick, carrying a pink suitcase, attempting to share his bed with male friends, and planning to use his prize money on a Coach purse. When Cody pulls up to a gas station and says “I’ll pay, you pump,” Oliver seems all-too-ready to stick his hand down his friend’s pants. Oh, and his Gamertag is Fraggett.
Touchy topics like race, gender, and sexual orientation have a place in comedy if they’re handled by a skilled comedian with tact and intelligence. Louis C.K. may be able to craft a hilarious and smart bit about the flawed logic of anti-gay crusaders, or how the time-travel experience would vary wildly for different races. Noobz is woefully unable to provide a respectful or humorous angle towards any of these topics. Rather, Noobz is the guy in the room that thinks the simple act of calling someone gay or pointing out a racial stereotype is funny. This is made apparent in countless situations, such as the previously discussed scene in which Cody’s wife accuses him of being gay. Her line is heard over the Xbox Live microphone, and the film cuts to a black kid with a pick in his afro squealing “DAYUMMM!”
Gay jokes are at the core of the film’s humor, with racial and chauvinistic bits thrown in for good measure. With those appearing frequently, Blake Freeman manages to handle the disabled demographic with the Hollywood character. Hollywood is a chronically ill teenager who relies on an oxygen supply for survival. Numerous gags revolve around his life-supplying device, such as the time an obese stripper steps on the hose and almost kills him. Then there’s the time that the tank gets caught in the elevator behind Hollywood and he’s almost choked to death. Our always-lovable protagonist Cody describes his buddy Hollywood as looking like “a *** carrying around a SCUD missile.”
The parade of awful characters doesn’t end there, with a Billy Mitchell parody named Armagreggon and Hollywood’s alcoholic, creepy mother also occupying screen time. Noobz always appears to be trying as hard as it can to wring a laugh out of its awful script, but there isn’t a single gag or bit in the film’s 103 minutes that resembles actual humor.
Above: The trailer should give you a decent idea of what to expect (See source for trailer)
I’ve had a chance to discuss some of the broadly offensive elements of Noobz, but virtually every element is an abomination. Its soundtrack is atrocious. Scenes sometimes transition in and out with record-scratch sound effects. The letter “S” is frequently replaced with “Z.” It features an airline named “DeezNuts Airlines” (“Thank you for riding DeezNutz!”). Casper Van Dien pops up in a brief cameo role that never lands any laughs. Cody wears a “Me + Your Mom = Pwnage” shirt. Former G4 personality Adam Sessler plays the role of a TV host and looks like he had absolutely no idea what he signed up for.
One garbage scene after another populates the early happenings of the film, and everything leads up to a final Gears of War 3 showdown at the Cyber Bowl III convention. It comes down to the Reign clan and the all-female Pixies clan, and pits Andy against his new girlfriend, Rickie. With $100,000 going to the winner, Rickie desperately needs the money to help her parents save their house. Every member of both teams is eliminated except for the lovestruck Andy and Rickie. When Andy has the drop on Rickie, he shows her mercy by not immediately executing her. Announcer Bill Bellamy begins shrieking “He’s letting that booty go to his head! You gotta frag that booty!” Always the gentleman, Andy lets Rickie win by taking him down with an uncontested headshot. “The booty wins…,” says Bellamy, who then declares that “the hot white chicks win it!” even though one of the team members is African American.
Andy’s Good Samaritan moment doesn’t win him the favor of his clanmates, as they begin viciously assaulting him. Cody pummels him with fists as Hollywood beats his friend down with his metal oxygen cannister. It doesn’t matter to Andy, as he apparently did the right thing by letting the girl win in a video game. This triumph of love over personal glory is forgotten by the time the text-based epilogue freeze frames come around, as Andy’s slide informs us that he’s currently “poppin’ Hollywood’s mom.”
Noobz would be an offensive piece of trash for any sane, intelligent human being, but it’s made exponentially worse if you’re a gamer. By celebrating the absolute worst elements of gamer culture and ignoring the elements that make the industry great, it’s embarrassing and infuriating to watch. Hollywood (the town) doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to portraying gamers, but Noobz is far and away the worst example I’ve ever seen. If every gaming movie was personified and stuck into a multiplayer FPS lobby, Noobz would be the obnoxious, racist, homophobic, sexist ***hole that you can’t scramble to mute fast enough.”