Stuart Ashens is one of those “big names on the internet”, host of his own you tube show where he “reviews” pound store knock offs (think Asylum movies except for toys). He has done some work for the BBC, helped to bring the kids TV show Knightmare back for a one off and has now written his own movie, starring him. In it he plays the titular Ashens a man obsessed with old tat and obscure rubbish who has one goal to find the also titular Game Child, a cheap Gameboy knock off which in the movie was completely recalled save for one legendary piece. Will he succeed? Will I succeed in watching it and should you? Let’s find out.
Now the main problem with a lot of internet reviewer movies is that they play out solely for the fans and don’t bother to explain anything about what is going on or why. This is made all the worse when they are mostly just in-jokes and references anyway. Ashens and the Quest for the game Child doesn’t fall into this trap at least not fully and in fact explains the basic idea quite nicely in a pre-credits sequence where he tries to track down a knock-off chia pet with help from his friend Richard and a generous helping of Basil Exposition. Granted not that there is too much to explain, after all the original internet show is just a plain brown sofa, two hands and a smarmy British voiceover along with whatever junk he has dredged up this week; unlike some, read many, internet review shows which feel the need to shoe horn in dodgy storylines, bad acting and lousy sets and pieces that would make Ed Wood cringe. Anyway the intended trade goes tits up we meet the main villain of the piece, the subtly named Nemesis, from here it’s a Bond Parody credits sequence and away.
The movie begins after this when a magazine is delivered to Ashen’s door that plays like one of those weird hobby mags you see lining the shelves of your nearest Tesco but instead dedicated to obscure knockoffs. However while this works fairly well for a giggle it is pretty useless to the plot as though it contains an article about the Game Child it is the arrival of old friend chef Jeff who actually lights the fire under his keister. Though the movie will call this out as foreshadowing and what not later on I only question if they realise how pointless it seemed. The two “friends” journey far and wide; well a pub, the library and a field from what I can recall and they meet a number of characters on the way who all fall nicely into the wacky category without any overstepping into annoying.
Speaking of which the cast on the whole range from honey glazed to Tesco finest sliced in terms of ham with Ashens himself bouncing between the two. This is especially noticeable when Robert Llewellyn and Warwick Davies show up in, annoyingly small, bit roles. Which only serve to highlight how low some of the others are. The costumes generally look a bit stiff and fake, especially considering the idea that most of them are supposed to be more or less average street clothes. The notable one being Ashens adventurers get up which could have probably been improved by him simply wearing it for a week before shooting to put a bit of wear and tear into it. Though this could be explained by the idea of his having to return it once they’re done. This could be the lack of budget or wardrobe but it adds to the slightly stiff feel of the movie with everything being ever so slightly off. CGI for instance is used quit liberally in the movie and as can be expected is not to a very high standard. This is perhaps at its worse when used for rather silly little touches such as a warning sign late on in the movies run time.
The gag, because I’m not too bothered about spoilers seen as how I’ve already seen it, is the old electric fence gag but because the sign warning about the nature of the fence is badly shopped onto the wall you notice it straight away and thus the potential joke is ruined. Now I know that the movie has a small budget and certainly when it comes to collapsing floors CGI seems like a much preferable option but when it is used for small signs on the side of buildings I’m sure someone could have run down to a local shop instead, it just ends up being another niggling little distraction that takes me out of the movie.
The movie has a decent enough level of humour to mean that it earns the category of comedy but I wouldn’t say it was over the top in terms of laughs. Though it seems to enjoy making references to things most people won’t get such as the parody of Knight and Squire, it never derails the film and the comedy itself is never used as a get out for plot holes and leaps in logic meaning that you can follow it along as a simple plot even if you don’t appreciate the humour or references. Though you will still notice them and wonder why they are there sometimes. Sometimes even if you do understand them.
The movie works best with the small moments such as the bits between the shop keeper and Richard. In fact the movie itself never quite matches the pre-credits sequence which is a shame. Now the references in the movie are well handled and don’t fall into “Family Guy” territory where they drop in for no reason and clout you round the head until you acknowledge them which puts it above pretty much every movie put out by “Channel Awesome”. In total the movie feels like it’s trying to be bigger than it can manage, with a part seemingly going to every friend and family member and a bit too much CGI. There is a good movie in here if only they dialled it back and focused a bit more.
Ashens and the quest for the game child is available to watch for free on youtube and I would hesitantly recommend giving it a watch. It is also available to rent or buy on dvd but I think I would require a bit more selling before I bothered with that plug especially for almost twenty quid.