Anthony's Film Review
(Short Film, 2011)
The antics of middle school kids and competitive know-it-all geeks, brought to life in a funny short film...
When you were in middle school (or junior high school, as they used to call it), was there at least one kid in the class who was way smarter than everyone else? Was there also someone who, as a result, felt so annoyed that he or she would bully that nerd or geek? Chances are that the answer to both questions is yes. Even my experience was no different. I observed classmates who fit the stereotypes of nerd and bully, and I was sort of a nerd myself, excelling academically in many subjects. (Thankfully, I wasn't bullied, though I could tell that some other people were jealous of me.)
Although this subject matter may be serious and unpleasant, it can also be a source for light-hearted humor. Nerd Wars!, a 30-minute short film, takes a bully, two nerds, a bunch of other quirky kids, and two teachers and mixes it all with comedy and a nice moral lesson for everyone. The main character is a nerd named Alfonso (played by Michael Peņa), who, in just the first two to three minutes of the movie, gets put into a trash can twice. But while the bully may dislike Alfonso, an even more formidable adversary enters the picture: a new student named Marty Baboor (played by Nathaniel Peņa), who is way nerdier than Alfonso because of the superior education he received so far from his native country of India.
You know what that means. It means war. It means a fierce competition to see which nerd is better. Even the bully is focused on this, so much that he eventually makes a five-dollar bet on which boy might win. But the nerd rivalry is not like what you may think. Remember, this is a comedy, not a drama. So what happens is that Alfonso and Marty, after a brief intellectual contest in the classroom, are the remaining opponents in a game of dodge ball during gym class. Everyone, including the gym teacher with the mannerisms of a drill sergeant, is waiting for one to defeat the other. Unfortunately, this goes on for a while, not because the nerds are really good at throwing and catching the ball, but because they really, really SUCK at throwing the ball.
Now, as the school day ends, there is one last chance to see which nerd will rule. All of the kids meet on the playground and demand a fight. But that goes on a while, not because the nerds are so skilled at attack and defense, but because all they do is repeatedly flap their hands at their opponents while standing at a cautious distance from each other. Then another kid suggests another contest. I'm not going to say what happens from there, but I will say that it does not resort to a Hollywood ending cliche. Rather, it concludes with something positive for kids and parents alike.
According to the web site of Peņa Talent & Productions, which made Nerd Wars!, this project was a family effort. It was directed and co-written by Willie Peņa and produced by Diana Peņa, the parents of Michael and Nathaniel Peņa as well as Keira Peņa, who has a small role in this film. I definitely commend the Peņa family for their work here, especially the three Peņa child actors. All of the other cast and crew involved whom I have not mentioned so far also deserve credit.
Overall, Nerd Wars! is funny and entertaining and certainly well made for a low-budget movie. My only complaint is that it isn't long enough, and I mean this in a joking manner. The characters of Nerd Wars! could probably do just as well if they are featured in a longer film or perhaps a television series. Maybe it can happen, if one looks at this short film as a pilot for something bigger. If only a Hollywood executive would take the time to check out this film. The industry may benefit from a new idea or two from the Peņa family.
For more information about Nerd Wars!, visit the Internet Movie Database.