Mister Cinecal

Mister Cinecal

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Infuriating Nightmare That Is Food Boy

"With great power comes great responsibility"; the wise words of Uncle Ben serve as a solid Golden Rule for all those with exceptional abilities. It might not always be easy, but those in a position of privilege have a duty to use what they have in a way that helps the people around them. Fiction is much less indulgent of the selfish than we are in real life, which is why one second of hubris from Spider-Man meant that his uncle had to be shot and killed and never allowed to come back. If Uncle Ben ever met Ezra Miller, the hapless twerp blessed with the ability to make food appear out of his hands, he'd probably punch him right in his stupid face.

The Adventures of Food Boy presents making any food spontaneously appear out of your hands as a nifty trick that might come in handy every once in a while, as opposed to say, a cure for world hunger. Sporting a D-List High School Musical alum and a thrifty premise that manages to combine the budgets for props and catering, The Adventures of Food Boy is what you might get if you take the screenwriters of Teen Wolf, get them hungry and then beat them all around the head a few times with a big hammer.

Lucas Grabeel plays Ezra, a young man who has ambitions of attending an Ivy League school but who also eats messes of various foods slopped together for money and the entertainment of his friends, Standard Sex Crazed Asian Character #347, Not Demetri Martin and Love Interest. In an effort to increase his college chances through extra-curricular activities, Ezra wants to become captain of the golf team and run for junior class president, a decision which prompts everyone he knows to laugh at him, including his own father and grandmother. How could a geek like Ezra (in the old-school, carnival definition of 'geek', considering his 'eats garbage for money' freakshow) possibly hope to become class president when he has to compete with bully boy Garrett, the big 40 year old man on campus?

Ezra's life of unrealistic expectations and obvious lack of self respect are thrown into wack by the manifestation of his food-generating abilities which begin with him accidentally spreading peanut butter all over his face and eventually lead to him humiliating himself at a class president debate with Obvious Adult Garrett, shooting lunch meat at his opponent and the audience with a lot of disgusting, squelching sound effects. The Adventures of Food Boy is too slight and dim to treat this as some kind of metaphor for adolescence, although when it comes to Ezra's utter horror at the mess he makes in the bathroom, I think we've all been there.

Sadly there is no Charles Xavier to come and take Ezra away and teach him to control his gift, but he does have his grandmother, who has this power too and who brushes aside his concerns by telling him that "your gift makes you more unique than any college can appreciate". And very unique it is, as she outlines the nonsensical rules of this ability. It has manifested at this particular time because Ezra is now 5900 days old and he has 59 days with this power. If on the 59th and last day he doesn't use the power, it's gone forever. The focus on 59, we're told, comes from the "59 food groups", we're just told there's that many and to accept it and move on. Generating the food too much tires you out and every time you tell someone about the power it makes the food taste less good. This I suppose is meant to be an explanation of why these HISTORY CHANGING ABILITIES aren't used for the betterment of mankind, but it's a pretty weak justification and it is never explained why things are this way, they just are. Like, scientifically telling people you have food powers makes the food taste bad? What is the chemical reaction there? Ezra receives all of this information with the enthusiasm of being told he has a 5 am paper route. On the steepest neighbourhood on Earth. And it's raining. Piss.

Yet Ezra finds his popularity soaring, as his display at the debate was so funny that he was voted vice class president. His 'magic tricks' drive everybody wild, to the point where even the school's resident Hot Girl (30 year old) is taking notice a further contribution to the unrealistic expectations of people who get into magic. This drags us into an interminable love triangle subplot which can go fuck itself.

The brief high of being popular and not realising that people are laughing at him and not with him does not come without consequence though. Friendships are strained when Not Demetri Martin gets the golf captaincy instead of him. Love Interest tries to make Ezra jealous by cosying up to his former best friend, but not much really comes of this since Ezra's such a self-centered jerk. The poor girl really goes through the mill for this fool too, being humiliated in front of the whole school during one of Ezra's 'magic shows' that goes awry and leads to Ezra attempting to make watermelon appear but accidentally shoots water from his hands all over her instead, footage I'm sure you can find at Clips4Sale as well as Netflix.

Ezra's whiny attitude towards these powers are hard to take (I'm sure he'll come to appreciate his powers when he's eating more than beans on toast in college) but almost as bad is the holier-than-thou attitude from others who know about his powers. His grandmother tells him that "not all superheroes fight crime" but never encourages him to do anything with his powers beyond not getting rid of them. A famous chef and TV personality reveals to Ezra that he used to have the same gift but gave it up on that fateful 59th day (you remember, because of the 59 food groups that we all agree exist?) and that he has regretted it ever since. Yes, if Ezra gives up his ability to make great food out of nothing, he might have to settle for having to make great food out of food, and gaining wealth and notoriety from it instead? It's hard to take this story seriously when all that seems to be at stake is a shitty teen making slightly more or less effort with something he can barely be bothered to do. The TV chef is also responsible for the most puzzling writing in the film (remember, 59 food groups), claiming that he's known Ezra's grandmother for years, and was also friends with her grandfather. The guy barely looks older than some of Ezra's classmates, but was friends with his great-great grandfather? Are there more than just food-based superpowers in this world? Is this chef immortal? Can somebody fly in and melt Ezra with eyebeams?

In the end, The Adventures of Foodboy does prove that indeed not all superheroes fight crime. Some superheroes start a food fight with the school bully, then when the whole cafeteria has descended into chaos and the bully hits his head, some superheroes make an icepack for him out of frozen vegetables. And when the bully gets in trouble, some superheroes bravely stand in to take the blame instead. Even though they really were to blame in the first place. Truly Ezra the Food Boy is the greatest hero since Enrique Iglesias, though disappointingly unlike the 'Hero' video, we don't get Mickey Rourke coming in to give this smug hero the beating he deserves.

Who is The Adventures of Food Boy supposed to entertain? It's much too childish for teenagers but not nearly funny enough for children. It's best purpose is probably to teach a lesson to people like me, who see a movie with a dumb name on Netflix and assume that the fun kind of bad is about to follow. But The Adventures of Food Boy is no Christmas Bunny, it's much too lazy for that. It's just an irritating nightmare. Send Lucas Grabeel back to the High School Musical warehouse forever.

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