Splinterheads -- Film Review

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Depicting an awkward romance between two young misfits set in the backdrop of a traveling carnival, "Splinterheads" mainly comes across as a low-rent version of "Adventureland." Although Brant Sersen's comedy has amusing moments, they come too far between to elevate the film above the standard indie level of quirkiness for its own sake.

The romance is between Justin (Thomas Middleditch), a twentysomething slacker who lives at home with his mother (played by Lea Thompson, and doesn't that make you feel old?), and Galaxy, a comely tattooed con artist whom he meets when she scams him at a convenience-store gas station.

It's certainly not hard to see what Justin sees in the gorgeous and sexy Galaxy, whom he later encounters at the carnival, where she works as a game-booth operator, or "splinterhead." Her attraction to him is rather less plausible, though he's clearly sweeter than her near-psychotic boyfriend, Reggie (Dean Winters), who, needless to say, is less than thrilled by the presence of the interloper.

Among Galaxy's more unique attributes is her passion for something called "geocatching," a sort of GPS-led form of scavenger hunting that is never clearly explained.

Among the numerous eccentric characters are Justin's 116-year-old grandfather, who always has condoms on hand in case the need arises; his pot-smoking best friend (Jason Rogel); his mother's ex-boyfriend/cop (Christopher McDonald) who still pines for her; and the carnival's resident magician, "The Amazing Steve" (Jason Mantzoukas), and his assistant, Wyoming (Lennon Parkham), with the latter two characters providing the few laughs to be had.

Newcomer Riddleditch fails to display the charisma necessary to make us care about his generally unappealing character, and though the supporting players, who also include the terrific Frankie Faison as a carnival worker who woos Justin's aunt, provide fun moments, they're not enough to compensate for the lack of wit in the listless proceedings. Other than possibly adding exotic new terms ("splinterheads," "geocatching") to the lexicon, the film has little to recommend it.

Opens: Friday, Nov. 6 (Paladin)
Production: Atlantic Pictures
Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Rachel Taylor, Christopher McDonald, Lea Thompson, Dean Winters, Frankie Faison, Pamela Shaw, Jason Rogel
Director-screenwriter: Brant Sersen
Producers: Darren Goldber, Christopher Marsh, Anisa Qureshi
Executive producers: Steven Voichick, Mike Bulger
Director of photography: Michael Simmonds
Editor: Chris Lechler
Production designer: Chad Keith
Costume designer: Cameron Folan
Music: John Swihart
No MPAA rating, 94 minutes

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