Film Geek (2005) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for nudity, sexuality, language and a scene of drug use
Running Time: 73 min.
Cast: Melik Malkasian, Tyler Gannon, John Breen, Tara Walker, Michelle Garner
Director: James Westby
Screenplay: James Westby
Review published August 23, 2006
Scotty Pelk (Malkasian, Operation Sandman) is an extremely dorky video store clerk who just so happens to be a major film buff. He is always recommending films to customers, whether they want him to or not, and sports a hat that promotes his online film review site. The customers can't stand him, and neither can his coworkers, which makes it an easy decision for his boss to fire him. Scotty looks for a new job but can't find one that will help him express his only passion in life, which is to talk about movies. Meanwhile, Scotty meets Niko (Gannon, Shooting Nick), a lovely, artistic young woman who also shares a passion for movies, and her perceived niceness to Scotty has him becoming extremely obsessive over making her his girlfriend somehow.
You don't have to be a "film geek" yourself in order to appreciate James Westby's tale of one young man's passion for an art form that is so all-encompassing that it effects his ability to interact socially with others. There is a universal theme here altogether about being a "geek", regardless of obsession. There really are people in this world that put all their eggs in one basket, immersing themselves completely in something that others only have a temporary passing interest in. All you have to do is take a look at personal pages around the internet to find what it is people are obsessed about -- movies, video games, sewing, their pets -- it seems nearly everyone on the net is a geek in some form or fashion. They just don't take it to the same extremes as Scotty.
While the main character at the heart of the film comes off as annoying at first, and understandably so to the people that have to know him, Westby portrays Scotty in a sympathetic light, unlike most other films that revolve around nerds. Without being manipulative, Westby shows us the intimate details of Scotty's word, and the way he overcomes his loneliness through getting involved in the world of movies, where for long periods at a time he can be somewhere else other than where he is. Unlike the real world that shuns Scotty, he can actually follow and get to know the people in the movie, and he's never judged by them as he enters their "lives". It's an escape, but also an understanding of other human beings that he has never really been privy to, and the high he gets from it makes him want to share his exuberance with others.
Film Geek is a low budget independent comedy, and as such, already has a limited appeal to potential audiences out there. It is often funny, with a touch of sadness underneath, as we root for Scotty to finally find some happiness with someone willing to accept him, also thinking that if he can find another thing to be enamored with, his primary obsession might be quelled. Westby claims to have put a good deal of himself in Scotty, which is what makes him relatable, as we all have felt, at one time or another, a fish out of water in social circles, wanting to be a part of it, while not willing to sacrifice our own passions and interests to fit in. I guess that's what being a geek is all about.
The film kept my interest, and I thought it might actually be too good to be true during the final few scenes, where I felt that Westby might be overreaching a bit, but in one final "shot", it all bounces back into place. Film Geek is primarily recommended for those that are film geeks themselves, to the point where they would rather watch a small independent feature than a major blockbuster release. Even if Scotty is a bit "out there", there are lots of them roaming around, driving everyone up the wall, yet they are so pathetic, you want to like them despite their overbearing nature because they mean no harm.
As someone with a passion for movies, and with my own self-authored website, I could definitely relate. Luckily for me, I've learned to put my obsessions aside (well, mostly) in my day-to-day life, using films to enhance my daily existence rather than to completely escape from it. Or maybe I'm Scotty and don't know it.
©2006 Vince Leo