Zero Charisma Reviews

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Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2014
Even this film's title is kind of nerdy, and it doesn't help that this film goes so far as to star someone by the name of Sam [u]Eidson[/u]. ...Okay, so it's kind of lame to forcibly cite this film as nerdy to the point of getting a star with a surname that sounds kind of like "Edison", but the filmmakers had to have some corny joke somewhere in the casting, for it's not like Edison has been earning enough attention from, well, anyone to get a gig even this low in profile. I don't know how nerdy the people in this film are in real life, but most everyone in this cast is some kind of a reject who has done hardly anything before. Hey, I'd imagine plenty of nerds out there would say that this film earns plenty of "cool points" (Ironic how so not cool the term "cool points" is) based sheerly on the fact that it's co-directed by a gi-gi-gi-gi-gi...gi-gi...gi... girl (Wheez, wheez, wheez, and whatnot)! ...Well, that makes it hard to talk trash about how nerdy these characters are, and the fact that Eidson's character is a big ol' boy who listens with a lot of pint-up aggression and grindcore metal blasting into his head. Yeah, I don't know who would pick on this kind of nerd, because he looks like he doesn't need that enchanted sword from the poster to put up a challenge, which means that it might not so much be retard strength that you need to worry about, just simple manchild strength. This is one big baby, but shoot, I'm not going to be the guy to tell him, because he would be mad enough if he found out that I'm not that crazy about this mediocre little film, no matter how much I compliment the strengths that are, in fact, there.

Andrew Matthews' script is kind of limp, but with decent bits, at least in humor, as well as intriguing elements in the mostly undercooked, maybe even somewhat unlikable characterization, whose distancing attributes are challenged by, at the very least, decent performances. There's hardly any acting material in this limp effort, but there are plenty of distinguished characters who the performers need to be pretty immersed in, thus, this cast of talented unknowns does what it can, with leading man Sam Eidson being particularly convincing, and intriguingly so, despite the unlikability of the Scott Weidemeyer character. This character study would be more effective if the characters were more likable, but if there is effectiveness, then it goes amplified by convincing portrayals, something that the characters needs if the film is to endear through its thin story. As if it's not enough that the characters are kind of unlikable in certain areas, this narrative that does little outside of simply meditate upon the questionable leads is pretty thin, and that really undercuts much momentum, to where natural shortcomings play an instrumental role in bringing the final product to mediocrity, and yet, I won't go so far as to say that this film's story concept is completely juiceless, as its portrayal of a nerdy manchild's lifestyle is pretty realistic, if not genuine, and therefore kind of intriguing. Really, it's the narrative's simply being to bland to be bad that keeps this film from falling too far, but where it could have been decidedly mediocre, the final product borders on decent, as there is some charm to its subject matter, and to its heart. Direction is generally dully cold, but if it does resonate something, then it's typically a sheer sense of ambition that, I must admit, is pretty endearing, maybe not to where the film is saved, but decidedly to where the film comes close to being saved. This is indeed a savable film, but alas, a saving grace does not come, and no matter how much this film charms with its ambition, if not some genuine strengths, it ultimately falls flat, which isn't to say that it was ever to go that far.

Again, this narrative concept has its intriguing elements, but on the whole, it's all-out thin, eventually leading somewhere, but being primarily meditative on minimal, underwhelming conflicts that would be more effective if Andrew Matthews' script, with all of its meditations, put more attention into genuinely fleshing its characters out. To be so meditative on characters going about their business, little is actually said by Matthews, as writer, due to very limited extensiveness, if not focal unevenness, that leave development to fail in distinguishing the characters all that much, making it harder to become invested in them. Yes, do note that I said that the underdevelopment makes it "hard[u]er[/u]" to get invested in the characters, because as if it's not bad enough that the characters are so undercooked and, well, kind of bland, they're unlikable, or at least the lead is, for although Sam Eidman's portrayal of the Scott Weidemeyer character is engaging convincing, the character himself is just too much of a manchild - concerned with the superficial and his own self-esteem over the concerns of others and growing up - for you to feel for him all that much. I mean, this film predictably culminates with Weidemeyer coming to terms with his flaws and beginning his long overdue steps into maturity, but that's just the climax, whereas in the rest of the film, the lead, in addition to a few other jerks, is hard to forgive, not just because his depths are limited by underdevelopment, but because the film spends so much time meandering along meditating upon his contemptibility. A sense of narrative thinness goes exacerbated by draggy storytelling, bloated with excess filler that, before too long, becomes repetitious, then continues to meander, until it is all-out monotonous, especially when backed by cold direction. I suppose charm graces a sense of ambition, but even palpable passion is limited in a cold directorial performance by Matthews and Katie Graham, who have effective moments, but whose limp, perhaps quiet atmosphere stiffens pacing and makes it easier to notice aimlessness, while also thinning intrigue so close into dissipation that other shortcomings, including - nay - especially the natural ones, essentially impossible to ignore. There's so little to say in this film, and if there was a little more heart here, then the final product would have stood as genuinely decent, but as things stand, this effort is not only forgettable, but mean-, if at all spirited, with unlikable characters behind a meandering narrative that mediocrity goes secured.

When the game is through, highlights in the script, acting and charm behind slightly intriguing subject matter are enough to bring the final product to the brink of decency, but this effort is far from that threshold, as underdeveloped, unlikable characters, aimlessly unfocused dragging and a cold directorial atmosphere behind a paper-thin story concept leave "Zero Charisma" to slip into mediocrity as a forgettable, under-inspired misfire.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
January 8, 2014
A small-scale character study that avoids banishment to the land of mediocrity because of Sam Edison & Anne Gee Byrd's strong performances. Formulaic and a little too low on laughs, but bound to find its niche audience (of which I am not) over time.
March 30, 2015
excellent ''Geeksploitation'' !
September 18, 2014
A movie about a group of tabletop role players. None of them are very likable. Seriously. It's as if a close minded jock from the 80's make up some characters and a story to go with it. I doubt that that is the case, but that's how it feels. Don't waste your time.
August 5, 2014
This is a wonderful movie about nerd culture, but not in that artificial "Big Bang Theory" way -- more in an "Observe and Report"-ish psychodrama kind of way. The [often pitch black] comedy hits hard and the character beats hit even harder. An outstanding debut for Matthews and Graham with an incredible indie star-turn for Sam Edison, even if the film is just a slight bit rough around the edges in a couple areas.
½ October 11, 2013
Between a 6/10 and 7/10, this is a likably blunt glimpse into the geek microcosm.
May 5, 2014
The ending really was a disappointment----------, so many questions were left out...
May 4, 2014
The film premiered at the South By Southwest film festival in 2013 and later screened at multiple North American Film Festivals including the Maryland Film Festival, the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal and the Newport Beach Film Festival.
April 29, 2014
After seeing this, obviously my problem is an ending. closure to the movie. while you end on a happy note, and the main focus of the film may relate to some, i feel as if there are many questions unanswered at the end of the film. Is this trying to portray the life of a real person, or just giving a sad story that may be compelling to some, but not most of the general audience? The questions left unanswered, while giving hope in a certain view, to certain people, leave a large gap at the end for the rest. the only reason I give this 3 is because I can in some ways relate the the main character.
½ April 20, 2014
Zero Charisma is such a perfect encapsulation of the world of debased nerd-dom that it will lack general appeal. Still, Zero Charisma is a smarter film than many of its contemporaries. The characters and their problems are real and heartfelt, their interactions smart and believable. The same truth, however, is that there isn't much development for the main, and only important, character (Scott Weidemeyer). The film is instead for of an exposition of his issues, with very little evolution of the underlying issues.
March 18, 2014
This isn't a comedy..
½ January 16, 2014
Makes me want to be a better DM.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2014
Even this film's title is kind of nerdy, and it doesn't help that this film goes so far as to star someone by the name of Sam [u]Eidson[/u]. ...Okay, so it's kind of lame to forcibly cite this film as nerdy to the point of getting a star with a surname that sounds kind of like "Edison", but the filmmakers had to have some corny joke somewhere in the casting, for it's not like Edison has been earning enough attention from, well, anyone to get a gig even this low in profile. I don't know how nerdy the people in this film are in real life, but most everyone in this cast is some kind of a reject who has done hardly anything before. Hey, I'd imagine plenty of nerds out there would say that this film earns plenty of "cool points" (Ironic how so not cool the term "cool points" is) based sheerly on the fact that it's co-directed by a gi-gi-gi-gi-gi...gi-gi...gi... girl (Wheez, wheez, wheez, and whatnot)! ...Well, that makes it hard to talk trash about how nerdy these characters are, and the fact that Eidson's character is a big ol' boy who listens with a lot of pint-up aggression and grindcore metal blasting into his head. Yeah, I don't know who would pick on this kind of nerd, because he looks like he doesn't need that enchanted sword from the poster to put up a challenge, which means that it might not so much be retard strength that you need to worry about, just simple manchild strength. This is one big baby, but shoot, I'm not going to be the guy to tell him, because he would be mad enough if he found out that I'm not that crazy about this mediocre little film, no matter how much I compliment the strengths that are, in fact, there.

Andrew Matthews' script is kind of limp, but with decent bits, at least in humor, as well as intriguing elements in the mostly undercooked, maybe even somewhat unlikable characterization, whose distancing attributes are challenged by, at the very least, decent performances. There's hardly any acting material in this limp effort, but there are plenty of distinguished characters who the performers need to be pretty immersed in, thus, this cast of talented unknowns does what it can, with leading man Sam Eidson being particularly convincing, and intriguingly so, despite the unlikability of the Scott Weidemeyer character. This character study would be more effective if the characters were more likable, but if there is effectiveness, then it goes amplified by convincing portrayals, something that the characters needs if the film is to endear through its thin story. As if it's not enough that the characters are kind of unlikable in certain areas, this narrative that does little outside of simply meditate upon the questionable leads is pretty thin, and that really undercuts much momentum, to where natural shortcomings play an instrumental role in bringing the final product to mediocrity, and yet, I won't go so far as to say that this film's story concept is completely juiceless, as its portrayal of a nerdy manchild's lifestyle is pretty realistic, if not genuine, and therefore kind of intriguing. Really, it's the narrative's simply being to bland to be bad that keeps this film from falling too far, but where it could have been decidedly mediocre, the final product borders on decent, as there is some charm to its subject matter, and to its heart. Direction is generally dully cold, but if it does resonate something, then it's typically a sheer sense of ambition that, I must admit, is pretty endearing, maybe not to where the film is saved, but decidedly to where the film comes close to being saved. This is indeed a savable film, but alas, a saving grace does not come, and no matter how much this film charms with its ambition, if not some genuine strengths, it ultimately falls flat, which isn't to say that it was ever to go that far.

Again, this narrative concept has its intriguing elements, but on the whole, it's all-out thin, eventually leading somewhere, but being primarily meditative on minimal, underwhelming conflicts that would be more effective if Andrew Matthews' script, with all of its meditations, put more attention into genuinely fleshing its characters out. To be so meditative on characters going about their business, little is actually said by Matthews, as writer, due to very limited extensiveness, if not focal unevenness, that leave development to fail in distinguishing the characters all that much, making it harder to become invested in them. Yes, do note that I said that the underdevelopment makes it "hard[u]er[/u]" to get invested in the characters, because as if it's not bad enough that the characters are so undercooked and, well, kind of bland, they're unlikable, or at least the lead is, for although Sam Eidman's portrayal of the Scott Weidemeyer character is engaging convincing, the character himself is just too much of a manchild - concerned with the superficial and his own self-esteem over the concerns of others and growing up - for you to feel for him all that much. I mean, this film predictably culminates with Weidemeyer coming to terms with his flaws and beginning his long overdue steps into maturity, but that's just the climax, whereas in the rest of the film, the lead, in addition to a few other jerks, is hard to forgive, not just because his depths are limited by underdevelopment, but because the film spends so much time meandering along meditating upon his contemptibility. A sense of narrative thinness goes exacerbated by draggy storytelling, bloated with excess filler that, before too long, becomes repetitious, then continues to meander, until it is all-out monotonous, especially when backed by cold direction. I suppose charm graces a sense of ambition, but even palpable passion is limited in a cold directorial performance by Matthews and Katie Graham, who have effective moments, but whose limp, perhaps quiet atmosphere stiffens pacing and makes it easier to notice aimlessness, while also thinning intrigue so close into dissipation that other shortcomings, including - nay - especially the natural ones, essentially impossible to ignore. There's so little to say in this film, and if there was a little more heart here, then the final product would have stood as genuinely decent, but as things stand, this effort is not only forgettable, but mean-, if at all spirited, with unlikable characters behind a meandering narrative that mediocrity goes secured.

When the game is through, highlights in the script, acting and charm behind slightly intriguing subject matter are enough to bring the final product to the brink of decency, but this effort is far from that threshold, as underdeveloped, unlikable characters, aimlessly unfocused dragging and a cold directorial atmosphere behind a paper-thin story concept leave "Zero Charisma" to slip into mediocrity as a forgettable, under-inspired misfire.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
December 26, 2013
The concept for the movie is unique, however the execution was poor. One of the major problems with the film was that there was very little payoff for the amount of investment and time spent on the movie. As viewers we expect to see the protagonist grow from his state of arrested development, to learn to apologize and accept his mistakes, to become financially and emotional independent and stable, to realize that at the end of the day, gaming is just a game, however he does very few of these things and the ones that he does, usually gets lost very quickly. Scott is extremely childish in nearly every manner of his life; in fact, you could take his script and put it into the mouth of a twelve year old and still have it sound accurate.
½ December 13, 2013
More sad than funny. Characterers and plots that seemed to be fresh and interesting turned out to be shallow at the end. First 30 minutes were great, the rest is just a downfall and psychosis of main character.
December 4, 2013
While often painful to watch, not from acting or writing but the honest depiction of some table-top gamers. The film is an honest look at the fun and frustrations of pen & paper players in the changing Gamer-Space.
October 21, 2013
I've been a supporter of this project from the beginning and I'm very happy it materialized. It generally is a good nerd film, it raises some really interesting issues and you can tell this was made with the heart, I just think they dropped the ball after the second plot twist and it's a real shame. But don't get me wrong, the flick is solid and quite enjoyable, even an impressive debut of so much talent.
November 22, 2013
Dankzij een eigenaardig hoofdpersonage wordt de emotionele impact van Zero Charisma flink belemmert, wat vooral te danken is door het script dat zich vooral lijkt te willen focussen op het spel dat de acteurs spelen. Hierdoor lijkt enige karakterontwikkeling ver te vinden, wat zonde is dankzij de poging om een waardige komedie over nerds te kunnen maken.
November 4, 2013
As someone who lies mid-way between the "protagonist" and "antagonist" , I felt I could relate to much of the movie, so it felt very authentic It sort of ends awkwardly, but in a refreshing way.
½ November 2, 2013
Frankly as a nerd i'm quite offended by this ridiculously predictable portrayal of a nerds life, it has just about every boring cliche that has become overused by years of declining media values such as geeks and nerds are fat, socially awkward, angry and in need of every bodies pity, whilst in most cases this may be true, it was unnecessary to throw it in the viewers face at every turn. I would absolutely NOT recommend this insulting pile of garbage to anyone other than maybe a schoolyard bully wanting to laugh at all the childish jokes that have ever been thought up to hurt nerds and geeks.
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