Cinema Review: Zero Charisma | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, June 2nd, 2023  

Zero Charisma

Studio: Tribeca Film
Directed by Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews

Oct 11, 2013 Web Exclusive
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Scott (Sam Edison) is an overweight, 29-year-old who delivers Chinese food and lives with his grandmother. But he’s not a loser. No. As his bumper sticker says: he’s the Game Master. As the creator of a role-playing game—think Dungeons and DragonsScott spends the balance of his time prepping for that one night a week in which he assumes command over his underlings—read: friends—on their epic quest through mysterious lands. That is, until an outsider, Miles, fills a void in the group. A good-looking hipster who used to play D&D in high school, Miles brings a six-pack to the dip-and-soda gathering. He’s a phenomenon: a trendy guy who can more than hold his own in a Millennium Falcon v Starship Enterprise debate and who has actually been laid. It’s not long before the group gravitates around him, swapping sodas in favor of his craft beers. Scott—his leadership unwittingly usurped—declares Miles his sworn nemesis.

Zero Charisma is a very enjoyable, surprisingly accessible movie about nerd culture that offers a little warmth with a lot of humor. The plot could have easily devolved into a series of pot shots against geeks, but most of the laughs stem from character rather than characterization. Scott is undoubtedly in need of a lifestyle makeover—quite a few, actually—but the imagination and detail he crafts into his fantasies earn him a certain dignity. Scenes revolving around his delusions, interactions with “normal” people, and his petty battles with Miles to regain his friends’ admiration are all funny. But underneath it all are universal struggles of self-worth and a refusal to grow out of a comfort zone. It feels like a rare misstep when the film turns Miles into an actual nemesis, shifting the onus away from Scott. On the other hand, the choice does lead to a very funny (and surprisingly tense) payoff. And it’s not as if growth won’t come. It will. Just in very small increments.

Author rating: 6.5/10

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