Now this one starts off with a good premise. Angarano plays Benjamin, a shy teenager with an obsession for sci-fi novels, who goes on a writing course weekend and meets his idol, esteemed author Ronald Chevalier (Clement, one half of the Flight Of The Conchords duo). But the master author's publisher hasn't been impressed with his recent output, saying that it won't sell. Chevalier tells his students to submit their manuscripts to him for critical appraisal and espies Benjamin's from the pile. He reads it and then secretly changes the names of the protagonists, passing the work off as his own to his publisher, who is then duly impressed.
This whole scenario is nicely played out. Angarano is convincingly awkward and Clement is hilarious when giving his lecture on sci-fi writing, his deep, distinctive voice and smooth slimeball manner perfectly imbuing the character with the right degree of pomposity and pretensiousness. Unfortunately, after this promising start, the film goes downhill rapidly. Benjamin lives with his highly dysfunctional mother (Coolidge), a designer of unfashionable womens' clothes, in a domed abode. She hires a friend for the lonely adolescent, the socially inept Dusty (White) who possesses a snake that cannot control its bodily functions. Benjamin also befriends the kooky Tabatha (Feiffer) and Lonnie (Jimenez) at the writers' retreat and they decide to make an amateur movie out of his opus, Yeast Lords, which annoys the condescending Chevalier.
We are also presented with re-enactments of scenes from his work, featuring Rockwell as bearded and hairy hero Bronco, in Benjamin's imagination, and alternately as camp and mincing saviour Brutus, as conjured up from Chevalier's mind. These sequences are done as tacky sci-fi send ups, with cheap props and effects. So all in all, this could've been a riotous romp, but it misses the mark completely. The characters are all such charmless oddballs that one can never identify with any of them, and there are a couple of moments of gross- out humour - Benjamin and Tabatha passionately kiss immediately after he has been vomiting copiously for example - that are just painful to witness. It's a cackhanded affair, the laughs totally misfiring under the moribund script and direction.
Retro film fans though might like to know that veteran actor Clive Revill, 80, shows up briefly. He was a top supporting actor in the '60s and '70s appearing in The Legend of Hell House, Avanti, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Shoes Of The Fishermen, Kaleidoscope and Modesty Blaise among many others. He looks great for his age and it's good to see him back, but a pity it's in a piece of such appalling drivel.