I start by saying that I am a fan of AVGN. However, I have not seen the movie. From what I have seen of it, it does not look like the kind of thing I would pay money for. In general, I do not buy content from internet reviewers. I believe that I could spend my money on better entertainment. My level of enjoyment of reviewer content ends at watching their videos on line.
Since I have not seen the movie I cannot offer a scene by scene review, not that I would have a desire to do such a thing anyway. But I have seen enough and heard enough of it to give my opinions on why it has gotten bad reviews. My critique will come in two parts. The first part is more speculation on how and why the movie was made. The second part is an insight into the movie that I have not heard anyone else mention.
James is a fan of movies, that is no secret. He went to school to study film. My suspicion is that he wanted to make a movie but could not fund it. He knew he could only get crowd funding if he made an AVGN movie, so he put that label on it.
The movie turned out to be a disjoined mess of different genres, all put into one pile and mixed together. Just like you might enjoy individual meals but wouldn’t eat a blended stew of various entrees, mixing together different types of movies does not work. This is a combination of sci fi, zombie, monster, action, and fighting movies. Furthermore, it is all done on a low budget. People have said it is an homage to B movies. But that is just an excuse to make a crappy movie. If you want to make a cheap movie, then stick to one kind of movie. Or if you can’t afford to make a certain movie, then don’t do it.
Here is the second part, and the big reason, I think, that the movie fails. The movie has nothing to do with video games. The basic premise is a spoof on the E.T. Atari 2600 game that was buried in the desert. (This is a true story, in case you didn’t know.) In the movie, of course they can’t use the licensed property, so they make a spoof Eee Tee game. I can’t fault that limitation except to say that a different plot would not have hinged on one game.
This game, obviously, features an alien. In the movie, they discover that there is a real alien and the military chases them. What does a real alien and the military have to do with video games? That would be like making an action hero movie because there was a game based on Die Hard, and claiming it was a video game movie.
So this isn’t a video game movie, but instead a collection of goofy, surrealistic, cartoonish events. Which brings me to the main problem with the movie. Understanding this point requires a few definitions. We have, at first, our real world. In our real world we have the AVGN internet skits. These skits exist in some kind of surreal world, where bizarre, cartoonish things happen. This is fine. This is why the show is funny.
Then we have the universe of the movie, but this is tricky. We have the “real” world of the movie, where AVGN is a “real” person who makes internet skits. This, by itself, is not the problem. In fact, you could hardly make a story otherwise. But here is the problem. There is the “real” world of the movie, which is the world that AVGN/James lives in. Then there is the “internet skit” world of the movie, which takes us a level deeper. In the “internet skit” of the movie world, AVGN does his goofy stuff. But the “real” world of the movie has those very same surreal, cartoonish things! Is the real world AVGN skit world the same as the movie “real” world “internet skit” world? I guess it has to be. Are you confused yet?
The reason the real world AVGN skits are funny is that we contrast the surrealism with our every day world. It would be perfectly fine to have a movie where we explore this surreal AVGN world. A 1.5 hour AVGN skit. This movie might not work, because AVGN would break the fourth wall and talk to the camera the whole time. This might or might not work.
But the AVGN skits are merely “internet skits” in the movie world, but at the same time the movie world is surreal. This, essential, makes the movie “internet skits” not surreal because they exist in a world where that is mundane. This removes the very thing that makes his skits funny and disconnects the fan base and tries to set them into something totally different, yet seemingly the same.
We see AVGN as a strange character living in a bizarre world where Buggs Bunny breaks into his house and fights him. It makes no sense to say that this world exists as a fiction on the internet in a movie world, but the movie world itself is just as surreal. This makes the AVGN skits merely a documentary of the “real” movie world. And now we are watching this movie world with surreal things happening. That’s not what I want to see. I don’t care about some goofy, cartoony adventure with cheesy fight scenes where the military is trying to catch an alien. This is not a movie about video games, and this is not the world I imagine AVGN living in.
Perhaps the movie would have been successful if it were either 1) a 1.5 hour skit (which is not what it was) or 2) not surreal. This second option might work with what the movie was partly doing. Part of the premise is that some game company is purposely making bad games just so AVGN will review it and make it popular. What if this was the plot, but nothing surreal happened? I suppose people would complain that it wasn’t funny because it had not AVGN jokes. But, as I have argued, that is inherently flawed.
I hope this explanation makes sense. I have not seen anyone offer that view point on the movie.