Since his inception in 2004 as a pair of joke videos never intended for the public, The Angry Video Game Nerd, then known as the Angry Nintendo Nerd and portrayed and created by James Rolfe, has become one of the internet’s biggest comedic hits. His foul mouth, violent rants, outrageous guest characters, and reckless abandon for the most loathed of classic video games have made him a cult icon. And for a decade now The Nerd, as he is referred to by fans, has delivered well over one hundred videos of him suffering from, conquering, and usually destroying the worst nostalgic games in his massive game collection. And though he has taken on numerous infamously “shitty” games such as Shaq Fu, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Ultra, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he has consistently evaded reviewing what many consider the sorriest excuse for a video game ever. A game that is so terrible that in 1983 it almost caused the entire game industry to keel over and die. That game of course is E.T for the Atari 2600.
Being that it is known across the world as the worst game in the history of games, E.T seems like it would have been the first game the Nerd would have done but even with countless personal requests and fan petitions, the Nerd silently refused to tackle E.T. Many wondered why he wouldn’t do the review until he made an announcement that would lead to one of the most anticipated films of the 21st century; Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.
In the AVGN Movie, the Nerd is an internet mega-celebrity for his angry game reviews but is haunted by the much hated E.T. game for Atari. Catching wind of this, a video game corporation hatches a plot to capitalize on the questionably fictional “shitty game craze,” inspired by the Nerd. The Nerd discovers that a sequel to E.T. is coming to modern consoles and is promised to be worse than the original. Forced into action, the Nerd must abandon his trademark Nerd Room and start out on an epic quest to stop the game at all costs.
Far more action oriented than the web series but just as hilarious, AVGN: The Movie is an action comedy, not a game review like the web series. Though that may seem disappointing to some, fans will be pleased to know the film is filled with all of the genre-spanning film cliché parodies and tributes, foul language, and bizarre scenarios that make the show great. Included as well are outlandish but widely accepted conspiracy theories such as Roswell, Area 51/Dreamland, and the Atari Video Game Landfill, purposely cartoony villains, and cameos from episode guest stars making for a well-rounded comedy chock full of Nerd goodness.
Those unfamiliar with the character or the show might write the film off as a poorly made, too over-the-top, living cartoon, but that’s how the fans like it. The character, the Nerd, is a 30-something year old man whose entire life revolves around torturing himself with the crappiest classic games he can get his angry hands on. To change that formula after a decade would have ruined the film and the franchise, and it’s clear that director and star of the film, James Rolfe, recognized this because the film is as outlandish and lewd as fans could have hoped. But then again, after four years of teasers this was expected. Not to mention, the film was only made possible by the generous donations from Rolfe’s fans from around the world. As is evident from watching the film with a keen eye, Rolfe has gone above and beyond to show his thanks to his fans loyal enough to the franchise to donate their hard earned cash to his dream.
Throughout the film one will notice a variety of Nerd and video game related paraphernalia such as a Nerd plush doll, vintage arcade games including Punch Out!!!, a Nerd-inspired power metal song, cameo’s by fan-favorites Shitpickle and the Glitch Gremlin, and even a scene of the Nerd playing a fan-made AVGN game that actually exists in reality. But to focus simply on the Easter eggs doesn’t do the film justice. If all of the fan service was removed, the film would still be a solid effort by a small team of independent filmmakers. And while the acting was corny, the plot was well-crafted and the special effects were excellent, especially considering much of the effects were done with puppets, scale models, and people in costume, much like the early Star Wars and Godzilla films, both of which are well-known inspirations for Rolfe as a director and filmmaker. Other positive notes about the film include the use of gaming fundamentals in the film’s reality, the involvement of Howard Scott Warshaw, the man who was tasked with the impossible goal of programming the ill-fated E.T. game in just five weeks, and a slew of guest cameos including the Nostalgia Critic, Pat the NES Punk, B-Movie director, Lloyd Kaufman, and AVGN web series mainstays, Kyle Justin and Mike Matei.
In all, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie won’t win an Academy Award and it will likely fly under the radar for much of the world and that’s a shame. AVGN is a timeless character that has helped renew interest in classic video gaming, especially with his rare positive reviews, particularly his four part episode on Castlevania. That being said, his theatrical debut was more than pleasing, it was fantastic. The effects may be a bit cheesy and noticeably fake, and the acting isn’t Oscar worthy but that’s what made the movie great. AVGN: The Movie is a B-movie made for people who like B-Movies. It didn’t set out to break any records or win awards. It was made to fulfill a man’s dream and entertain his legions of fans while paying tribute to the entertainment industry that inspired him. If anything, AVGN: The Movie proves that you don’t need a super inflated budget to make a great movie. All you need is a good story, strong moral support, and the cinematic skills to make it all work. And even if you don’t like it, for the price of $5 to rent and $10 to buy, it’s no big loss.