Basic premise: small-town homeschooled kid goes to a writer's camp and enters his sci-fi story in a contest. The judge of the contest, considered the best modern sci-fi writer alive, steals the story and rewrites it into his next big seller.
From Jared Hess - the writer/director of "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Nacho Libre".
If you didn't like either of those you'll probably not like this one either. Has a more coherent story than "ND" had, but at times is a weirder steaming pile of dumb* than "NL" was. But if you can tune your brain to enjoy the steaming piles of dumb on the level that that both "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Nacho Libre" were, this movie might just work for you.
Good things: Cast. Includes The original MILF (Jennifer Coolidge) as the mom, the ever-good Sam Rockwell has his parts, and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) as the movie's douche. Plus Héctor Jiménez (Esqueleto from Nacho Libre) playing another freaky oddball. Not quite as funny as his girly-screaming Esqueleto, but weird enough to make one chuckle out of squeam.
Also - seeing the contrast of the original author's 'vision' vs. the plagiarizing douche's vison of the story is amusing. Another amusing thing - in the 'reality' of the world the movie sets up, what is taken to be "good" sci-fi would be crap in real world (or good regular SyFy programming) - so when you hear the worse writing examples - oh man.
Less than good things: Jared Hess flicks are starting to look and feel alike. I'm not sure if he's trying to recapture the undefinable magic that made Napoleon Dynamite seem like a better movie than it is or what. But you can't bottle it man -- let it go.
I'm really not sure how to take these Jered Hess movies -- they seem really entrenched in either cornering the low budget look, or justlookinglike it so well that you can't tell if he's poking fun at low budget movies set in backwoods towns with casts of miscreants or what. This movie anchors itself in the self-contained "small world" feel that "Napoleon" had, yet bends the borders some as the antagonist (douche) of the flick is obviously known in a much bigger world than just the movie's setting. Still, the movie doesn't overstep the boundaries of the world it defines for itself. Gotta give 'em credit for that.
As I said - if you didn't really like "Napoleon Dynamite" and/or "Nacho Libre" this probably won't be worth watching. If the converse is the case, this movie is worth a Red Box or Netflix rental. Or wait for it to show up on HBO or Showtime or wherever it lands. It has its chuckle-worthy moments.
* when I say "steaming pile of dumb" it is meant with affection. Really.
EDIT 1: Now that about a week has elapsed I've noticed references to pieces of the movie have begun creeping into my vocabulary. Not necessarily quoting lines, but a particular gruesome noise made by the Héctor Jiménez character early in the movie. Especially when mocking a scene in some other show, or weirding up some other live event. So even if this movie doesn't quite have the quoting potential of Nappy-D, it must've made some sort of lasting impression. Which gets me thinking I may watch this one again in the future, most likely when it hits one of the cable movie-channels.
EDIT 2: Watched this flick again when it was on a pay movie channel about 8 months after my initial viewing (I forget which one, it was months ago). Then watched it again after that. This movie is definitely a grower. It grows on you. The multilayered levels of funny start really standing out. And Sam Rockwell is even better than I first hinted at above. Heck I even rewatched Nacho Libre because of this. So Jered Hess stays on the 'watch anything he does" list for me. Just because.
(originally posted 4 March 2010, with some updates later and even more later)