You know the guy who works at the video store who’s super-nerdy about movies and recommends obscure foreign classics and babbles endlessly about movie trivia? You don’t? Then don’t see “Film Geek.” You won’t get it.
For those who know such people — or, better, who ARE such people — “Film Geek” is an agreeable, occasionally very funny low-budget movie that is at least partly autobiographical for its writer/director, James Westby.
His alter ego is Scotty Pelk (Melik Malkasian), a baby-faced, high-voiced man in his early 20s who works at Video Connections, a Blockbuster-type rental house. His passionate, dorky love for film is off-putting to customers and even to fellow employees, who are teenagers who couldn’t care less about cinema as art.
He is fired because of this, though that doesn’t stop him from wearing his Video Connections shirt and nametag everywhere. The film follows him as he wanders through Portland, Ore. (hometown to Westby), trying to make points with a hip girl named Niko (Tyler Gannon), enduring his new job in an auto-parts shipping warehouse, and promoting his Web site.
You can see Westby venting some of his long-held frustrations about what philistines video-store customers are. They don’t care if a movie is letterboxed or not, and they love “Patch Adams” but hate “Memento” for being “confusing.” If you chuckle knowingly at the scenes depicting those customers, you are the target audience for “Film Geek.”
There’s a “Napoleon Dynamite” vibe to the film, particularly in that its main character is odd yet pathetically endearing. (Both films have only a passing interest in their own plots, too.) The difference, and it’s a key one, is that while Napoleon’s entire world was quirky — it’s not just himself, but all the other characters, too — Scotty exists in a normal, down-to-earth world. He’s the only weirdo in the movie, and so some of what he says is a little TOO bizarre. I kept thinking: “How could he be THAT oblivious to the way people perceive him, and the way normal people behave?”
He couldn’t, of course, not in real life. Nonetheless, his slacker’s journey from obscurity to fame registers as a movie geek’s ultimate fantasy.
B- (1 hr., 18 min.; )