WRITTEN REVIEW – Smosh: The Movie (2015)
Smosh: The Movie
Directed by: Alex Winter
Written by: Eric Falconer & Steve Marmel
Starring: Ian Hecox, Anthony Padilla, Jillian Nelson, Michael Ian Black & Brittany Ross
Music: The Outfit
Release Date: September 22nd 2015 (U.K. Netflix)
Over the past 15 years, the rise of the internet has paved the way for a new kind of celebrity. The type of public figures that cultivate their own success through becoming popular online. Normally online stardom fades relatively quickly, but for Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla of “Smosh” they’ve been going strong since starting their YouTube account in 2005. As of writing this review, the “Smosh” YouTube Channel has 21.4 million subscribers with 4.93 billion video views and while they are currently the 4th most subscribed channel on the video-streaming website, there have been long periods of time where Smosh held the No. 1 position.
However, internet fame is not easily transferable. Internet celebrity “Fred” got a TV-movie trilogy (yes, it was a trilogy) but they weren’t considered a success and while the “Angry Video Game Nerd” got a movie, that was independently funded and not a result of the Hollywood Studio System. Ian and Anthony of Smosh have a distribution deal with Lionsgate but their debut feature film, ‘Smosh: The Movie’, makes its way to the U.K. exclusively through Netflix. Is there a reason online-personalities don’t find much success outside of the online space? Or can the duo that are still going strong a decade on break the mould?
Anthony (Padilla) is trying to make an honest living in the world. He just got a job as a Pizza Delivery Man and moved out of his parent’s house…into his best friend Ian’s (Hecox) parents house. Ian just spends all day watching videos on YouTube and wasting his life, however, after an invitation to attend their high school reunion, Anthony sees this as an opportunity to speak to the love of his life, Anna (Nelson). But a video appears online of Anthony humiliating himself and it’s slowly going viral. Anthony and Ian decide to go inside YouTube itself, with the help of Mr. YouTube (Black), and delete the video before Anna can see it and before the high school reunion that night.
If you know anything about “Smosh” then that plot outline in the above paragraph should confuse you a bit. See, in this alternative Smosh Universe, there’s no such thing as Smosh. Oh, there is such a thing as YouTube, many YouTube Celebrities and Anthony and Ian but the two aren’t internet famous. There are a few nods to Smosh fans, for example their favourite theme song is for “Magic Pocket Slave Monsters” (an obvious parody of “Pokemon”, which they lip-synced to in their first viral video) and someone mentions a donut one time (it’s not even a pink-frosted sprinkled donut) but this feature film debut bares no other connection to their online sketches or any of their recurring characters or concepts. ‘Smosh: The Movie‘, other than the two lead actors and the presence of YouTube, has absolutely nothing to do with “Smosh”.
That’s not the only indicator that the creative team have absolutely no idea who to aim their movie at. ‘Smosh: The Movie‘ is rated 15 but the writers have a history predominantly working on Nickelodeon children’s entertainment such as “Fairly Odd Parents”, “Johnny Bravo” and “Danny Phantom”. There’s nothing wrong with that and there’s no reason people can’t make a transition to teenage/adult entertainment, but the tone remains pre-school. Same goes for the plot that runs entirely on cartoon-logic (and not even good cartoon-logic) and what we have is a movie aimed at children, with a 15-certificate because of swearing and violence despite being based on a YouTube channel predominantly aimed at a younger crowd. ‘Smosh: The Movie‘ doesn’t have a clue what its target audience is.
Some of the topical jokes at the expense of online-culture may initially seem funny but fall apart the moment you put them under scrutiny. For example, Anthony and Ian always complain about skippable adverts that play before YouTube content. Yeah, that’s a relatable annoying reality of free online content but…why are Smosh complaining about that? THAT’S HOW YOU MAKE MOST OF YOUR MONEY, SMOSH! The biggest laugh in the movie has Anthony and Ian go to the YouTube head offices and ask that the embarrassing video get removed and the woman behind the counter asks “Are you a rich and powerful corporation that can threaten us with legal action?”. When Anthony says no, then she just ends the conversation.
Yeah, funny joke. But if this had any basis in reality then anyone could file a false DMCA on any YouTube video they deemed fit and it would be unwatchable for 30 days with zero negative repercussions. So why don’t Anthony and Ian just do that?
Instead, they go and speak to Mr. YouTube (yes, his last name is YouTube just like the founders of Instagram, Facebook, Google and Netflix named their companies after their own last names in this movie-universe and that’s the joke) who reveals that there’s a portal in his office that leads to YouTube where most of the movie takes place as Anthony and Ian travel through different YouTube sketches in order to find the original video and somehow delete it. Along the way they have a companion phone named Diri (GEDDIT!?) who deliberately takes them to the wrong place because the movie would only be 10 minutes long if they didn’t contrive that scenario.
It’s not a bad set-up for a movie and it works as an opportunity to have shameless YouTube cameos such as Markiplier, it’sGrace and randomly Harley Morenstein from “Epic Meal Time” plays Ian’s Mailman and doesn’t seem to exist on YouTube. Yeah, ‘Smosh: The Movie‘ kinda picks and chooses its own internal logic and consistency as to who is a YouTube celebrity and who isn’t as well as just how Ian and Anthony actually effect the videos once they’re there. Sometimes Ian and Anthony can’t be seen by the people in the video, sometimes they have full-blown conversations with them. Sometimes Ian and Anthony can’t leave the confines of what is being filmed and sometimes they go WAY beyond the confines of the camera filming the events. In fact, they can break down the borders of these videos to such an extent that they can even see the person who is FILMING the videos that they are in. There’s zero internal logic here. Not to mention the fact that the exposition is so clunky that you’d think this was genuinely aimed at 5 year olds.
And if this was a children’s movie or a TV-movie on Nickelodeon or something then I’d accept this as just mindless fluff but…Lionsgate distributed this and gave it a 15 certificate.
Sometimes Anthony and Ian completely destroy the video-scenario they are in only for everything to reset once they leave and sometimes they completely alter the original video and the changes stick once they leave. This last one is particularly egregious because it becomes a MAJOR plot-point towards the end. The lack of internal consistency isn’t just something to poke-fun at, it’s something that actively detracts from everything the film seems to be going for.
It’s also not helped that the movie’s childish sensibilities become pretty…uncomfortable. At the beginning of the movie, Ian creepily watches YouTube videos of a woman getting her butt massaged and leaves her perverted comments which continually get deleted and flagged. He claims that the flagging means she’s “playing hard to get” and that she’s his girlfriend. Well surprise surprise, he ends up finally meeting “butt massage girl” (knowing her name would “ruin the mystery” apparently) and it turns out that she does have a crush on Ian (or “BidRod91” as he goes by online) and that her flagging of his inappropriate comments genuinely was because she was playing hard to get.
Guys, if you send sexually suggestive comments to a female stranger on the internet (you can gender-swap that if you want) and she deletes them…in real life, it’s NOT because she likes you and she’s playing hard to get. Fuck that nonsense.
But the main issue with ‘Smosh: The Movie‘ is that it’s not remotely funny or well performed. Anthony and Ian have natural chemistry as the actors are friends in real life and have been working on-screen with each other for over a decade, but the dialogue is stilted and it’s clear that these two are not actors in a conventional sense. The “drama” that occurs later on in the movie has zero heft and the performances from supporting cast members Michael Ian Black as Mr. YouTube and Brittany Ross as “Butt Massage Girl” are pretty embarrassing, particularly Michael Ian Black whose villain doesn’t make a lick of sense and is just an immature non-threat.
A lot of the humour stems from “Lol. Cat videos are cute” or “Lol. I recognise that video of someone doped up on painkillers after dentist appointment” or “Lol. So random”.
Once again; 15 certificate.
The jokes fall flat, the delivery is lame, the cameos are uninvolved and are sometimes literally phoned-in and none of the clever word-play or elaborate scenarios found in the Smosh online videos can be found here. Nothing relating to “Food Battle”, “If Video Games Were Real” or other out-there scenarios that the duo are known for are present and neither is what made them popular in the first place. This is coming from someone who was once-subscribed to the channel and is an annual “Food Battle” viewer. I see the appeal of their content. It’s just not in this lame-duck of a movie.
Also, the movie looks shockingly cheap with incredibly low-production values. Honestly, the 5-minute YouTube videos seem to have been made with a higher budget and better equipment than this movie. The colours are drab and it’s clear that there’s been zero colour-correction in the editing room, the green-screen work may be deliberately terrible but it’s still terrible and the whole affair looks so limited and cheap. For something distributed by Lionsgate, it looks like a $100,000 TV movie and not the $5,000,000 endeavour it supposedly is. Seriously, “Smosh” clearly have broadcast quality equipment for their online videos. What happened here?
I don’t even remember any of the music. So there’s nothing to be said about that.
‘Smosh: The Movie‘ is too dumb, too childish and too internally inconsistent to appeal to the adult demographic it’s targeted at and its barely tangential relationship to Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla’s online catalogue from the past 10 years means that fans of “Smosh” will find nothing in here that caters to them. It’s one of those rare movies where I can’t imagine ANYONE walking away from it having had a good time. The plot is limp, the jokes don’t hit the mark, the acting is below-par, the production values are non-existent, its gender-politics are…dire…and the only thing going for it is that it’s mercifully short at 75 minutes (not including credits) but even then you feel the movie’s length. I feel like this is a movie that will not be put on the CV’s of anyone involved for the foreseeable future.
Anthony, Ian, everyone involved on the “Smosh” YouTube Channel, I respect you guys for still finding success after a decade online as well as all the content you continue to produce on a daily basis. But I don’t care if you have 21,399,344 more subscribers than me. Your movie sucks.
I give ‘Smosh: The Movie‘ 0 stars out of 5.
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Posted: 5th Nov 15