Two best friends, Elliot the wanna be screenwriter, and John the aspiring actor, are lamenting their 30th birthdays. They haven’t made it. Loserdom is somewhat charming among the LA set in your 20s, but after 30? Embarrassment.
So they make a pact: they’ll give themselves 24 hours to get famous, at any cost. They’re not going to query studios or go to auditions, they’re done with doing it the Hollywood way. Now they’re desperate enough for the lowest kind of fame: Internet fame.
While director Chris Prynoski’s film takes deliberate aim at consumerist culture, Elliot (voiced by Patton Oswalt) and John (Paul Rudd) are enthusiastic consumers who want to be consumed themselves. They’re hapless idiots, basically, brilliantly brought alive by Oswalt and Rudd, and written with just the smallest dashes of sympathy to ensure they’re still tolerable to watch among their shenanigans. It’s clear they long to be shenanigators, but they’re not even smart enough to be in the right place at the right time, or inventive enough to produce something for their own. So as their 24 hour deadline ticks by, their search for fame makes them compromise…in the name of infamy.
There’s satire hidden in here somewhere, even if the payoff is pretty mild. The story feels more like several episodes, strung together by these two numbskull protagonists. They keep moving forward even as we feel a little left behind. Still, there are moments that make it worth it: Elliot’s attempt at rebooting Rip Van Winkle as a character who wakes up now and goes on a shooting spree, for example, and the watching of notorious underground tape X-V, literally a supercut of every fantastically horrific, violent, gory thing that has ever happened on film, set to some delicious pop. It’s nauseating good fun.
Both the characters and their animated world are quite ugly to look at. LA has never looked worse, but I suppose that’s a reflection of how two guys who didn’t make it feel about their adopted home, not the city of dreams, but the city of broken dreams. Nerdland embraces the vulgarity of it all: the homelessness, the dirt, the emptiness, the waste, the superficial people and their superficial parts. This movie won’t be for everyone and that’s okay. If you’re a fan of Titmouse, you’ll want to check it out.