'Smosh: The Movie' Review

Since 2005 smosh has been a major influence on the entire landscape of YouTube which is why it is quite surprising it took them this long to produce their own feature film. However, as proven by the past, just because you're a YouTuber with a lot of popularity does not mean you have any business making feature films or even carrying one as the lead. But let's see if the Smosh guys manage to pull it off.

After the release of quite a terrible, terrible trailer, things were not looking good. Sure as expected, some hardcore fans were ready to eat up whatever they were given but even for people like me who never had a significant problem with Smosh and has managed to find enjoyment in certain things they've done (that said I could not tell you anything they've done the past several years). I even enjoyed a select few things on their other channels as well while still knowing full well I was clearly wasting my time. The real reason however I gave this film any kind of credence was finding out the writers behind 'Blue Mountain State' (which I just published a review of) were penning this, so I was mildly to moderately surprised to find a trailer that felt so unbelievably poorly structured and boring. The tiny little hope I had was a basic run of the mill goofball comedy starring Ian and Anthony with a clear cut beginning, middle and end that managed to offer even the most basic of gags in a story that would manage to stay true to the content Smosh is known for but not to the extent of alienating the people who just don't care. This is sadly where the main problem lies however. 'Smosh: The Movie' sadly became a clear victim of a catch-22. On one hand they would be better off staying 100% true to their YouTube content, somehow cramming in all of the side-characters they've had over the years (That Damn Neighbor, Boxman, Teleporting Fat Guy and Ian's mom, etc...), a lot of Smosh fans would definitely find enjoyment in that - however everybody who are not fans would have no idea what was going on and just end up confused and most likely bored. On the other hand they could've written an entirely new storyline that just happened to the star the Smosh guys in order to try and get a wider audience find any interest in it. The problem here though is a lot of people not on the Smosh-train would never in a million years want to pay money and watch something called 'Smosh: The Movie' and the actual fans of Smosh will most likely not be entertained because it is so radically different from the reasons they became fans in the first place(even I noticed Ian's mom is not even played by Ian's mom from their YouTube sketches). What we end up having here is just an extremely by-the-numbers plot that plugs in all the elements you would usually see in a mediocre comedy but never grasping on to any kind of clue why or how they work. This movie is just the worst.

The direction this movie takes with its plot fails right down to the characters of Ian and Anthony. Their fans obvioulsy knows their personalities fairly well (at least how they act on screen) from their various vlogs, gaming videos and behind the scenes videos, you name it. When it comes to their sketches, they're clearly not being themselves (obviously) and those hightened characters were never three dimensional people - which works fine for sketches, it was more just them involved in some kind of over-the-top situation. What has happened in 'Smosh: The Movie' is the writers end up making them laid back and more grounded versions of those cartoon characters in the sketches - but they still remain cartoon characters because they are never given any development apart from the most basic and comically overused archetypes possible. If you are writing a Smosh movie you have to figure out whether you want to use the real life Ian and Anthony as the characters for your film, if you want to use the short film characters of Ian and Anthony, or completely new characters with different names starring Ian and Anthony. They went with a lazy mix between the cartoon and the real people and what we have is two leading men with zero personality, zero charisma and zero business leading any story longer than four minutes. The only praise I can give here is they at least held back from giving them any real emotional moments because it's clear they can't act.

Despite my praise of the other projects the writers of this film were involved with before this - you can probably tell by now that I am not a fan of the screenplay here. In fact I would have to say the screenplay to 'Smosh: The Movie' is downright inexcusably terrible. Just the idea of Ian and Anthony going inside of YouTube to get rid of a video is such an overpoweringly stupid concept to make a whole movie out of, I barely even know if it can pull off being a 10 minute sketch. I could imagine perhaps 5-6 minutes, but stretching it out to a whopping 84 just ends up feeling redundant almost immediately and the longer they spend within that situation - the more questions you as a viewer start asking about the logic behind any of it. I know pointing out actual logic in what is essentially a feature length Smosh video is unnecessary and counter-intuitive as it just doesn't matter but this is still a >movie< (it's in the title of the damn thing) and a movie with an outlandish plot needs to establish a set of rules and follow them. At one point they establish that whenever they end up in a video - they are able to replay it which essentially removes everything they had done to alter it and start over from the beginning again. In the very next scene however we see Anthony telling Ian they need to hurry before a certain moment in the current video occurs... what? Really nothing in the YouTube section of the movie makes any kind of sense. If I were to film a video, edit it, upload it to YouTube and then go "inside of YouTube" to alter it by adding another version of me interrupting whatever I was doing in the video - would that be something that happens in real life when I am shooting it or would it only be in the video? Is every video supposed to function like the memories in the Harry Potter series where you can revisit it later and watch it like a spectator (except this time interact with everybody involved)? Nothing here really adds up and you just end up beating yourself with a bat for trying to bring logic into this movie when the writers clearly didn't. As I said previously, you need to establish a set of rules and then follow those rules unless you want to intentionally confuse and annoy the audience.

You also just got to wonder why they even went with the YouTube idea in general. The sketches they've made rarely (if ever) bring up the website at all. It just ends up feeling like a cheap gimmick "The real life versions of these people make videos on YouTube so we should obviously have the plot of the movie involve YouTube in a significant way". You've just got to wonder if YouTube itself had any involvement in the making of this...

The CGI is not impressive even for a YouTube video as it feels like I've seen actual Smosh videos with better effects. There is a point in the film where the duo encounters a bear inside of YouTube and as they are running away in a flat angle there are shots where the bear is downright missing behind them. The worst effect however is the most basic and laughably obvious green screen effect being used when they are entering the world of YouTube.

You think I am done talking about the script? Sadly not, that detour into the effects was just a break before my final point. The entire plot is filled with lazily written exposition, there are a ton of conveniences to get the plot moving and the whole conflict ends up being virtually non existent. Basically the whole reason why Ian and Anthony even go inside of YouTube in the first place is because an embarrassing video of Anthony appears on the site and becomes viral right before a 5 year anniversary with their old classmates - their classmates including a girl Anthony wants to bone. It turns out though this girl was really into Anthony back in the day because of how nerdy and clumsy he was so when he attempts to get with her she's no longer interested because of his attempts to not be those things anymore. This kind of twist has been done successfully a lot of times before but never in a way that renders the entire movie pointless. It also does not help the fact that we never get to know anything about the girl that Anthony is interested in and we already barely know anything about Anthony as a character in the film so we have no real investment in this potential relationship.

Overall, this movie is a mess of the purest kind that is completely let down by a terrible screenplay. Ian and Anthony deliver serviceable at best performances for the most part but we do not get to know enough about their characters (whatever they are) so we never end up caring about what happens to either of them. The entire conflict is utterly pointless, the effects look worse than what we get from their YouTube videos and I cannot imagine people who are not fans of Smosh enjoying it at all and I cannot imagine fans of Smosh enjoying it either. Terrible, terrible film.

- Lucas


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