Zero Charisma (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/02/2014

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 86 mins

Hugely enjoyable, laugh-out-loud funny and warm-hearted nerd comedy with a sharply observed script and a terrific central performance from Sam Eidson that's like a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and the Simpson's Comic Book Guy.

What's it all about?
Co-directed by Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews, Zero Charisma stars Sam Eidson as overweight thirty-something nerd Scott Weidemeyer, who shares a house with his grandmother (Anne Gee Byrd) and lives for his weekly table-top role-playing game session with a group of fellow nerds, lording it over them as their seemingly all-powerful Games Master. When he loses one of his regular players, he's forced to recruit a new member and impulsively invites cool-looking hipster Miles (Garrett Graham) to join his role-playing night after meeting him in the games shop.

However, Miles turns out to be everything Scott is not: a successful, confident geek with his own hit website, a comic that's being considered by publishers and a gorgeous girlfriend (Katie Folger as Kendra) to boot. To make matters worse, Miles soon begins to challenge Scott's mastery over their gaming universe, causing a rift between him and his friends. And as Scott's personal life begins to unravel as a result of his grandmother's illness and the arrival of his unreliable mother (Cyndi Williams as Barbara), he comes to see Miles as his nemesis and vows to seek revenge.

The Good
Eidson (who looks like Ethan Suplee's less attractive brother) is excellent as Scott, a character who could essentially be the love-child of Napoleon Dynamite and the Simpson's Comic Book Store Guy, yet is instantly recognisable, particularly if you've ever been anywhere near an actual game of Dungeons & Dragons. Needless to say, he's not an easy character to like, but Eidson and co-directors Graham and Matthews find the perfect balance between the audience laughing at Scott's excesses (many of them RAGE-related) and yet still finding a measure of sympathy for him, a factor that increases significantly with the arrival of his awful mother.

The supporting cast are equally good, particularly Graham, who provides the perfect counter-point to Scott and Brock England as Scott's best friend Wayne - there's a scene where Scott tries to squeeze one of Wayne's spots that plays like a substitute sex scene and is worth the price of admission alone. Similarly, Williams and Byrd are both superb as Wanda and Barbara, while Folger makes a strong impression as Kendra, who's initially sympathetic towards Scott and pays him some attention (their first interaction is beautifully played).

The Great
The script (by co-director Matthews) is excellent, nailing each of the relationships so that you understand exactly where Scott is coming from and why he so badly needs the control he experiences as the Games Master. In addition, the dialogue is superb throughout (the arguments are hilarious) and there are a number of wonderful running gags, such as the details of Scott's various masturbation-related misdemeanours.

Worth seeing?
Zero Charisma is hugely entertaining, warm-hearted indie comedy that takes an affectionate swipe at geek culture. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 23/07/2018 01:27

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