I know, another movie review! Yes, I’m sorry to have to resort to this. I think my reading slump is at an end, but I’m still not having much luck of finishing off books. I hope to not do this again for a while. When I was writing the review for ChickLit, I saw related movies and this one caught my eye. It had a lot of awards on it and after watching the preview, I realized it had Michael Ian Black (loved his memoir) so I decided I had to watch it. Plus, it talked about fanfic writing, which is how I got into writing in the first place.
Summary from IMDb
Freshman Neil’s Vanguard stories are all he cares about…until he meets the older Julia, who pushes him to put his own fan fic online. When the website’s moderator takes a special interest in Neil’s work, it opens up a whole new universe.
I found this movie highly relatable. Not so much the slash fanfiction (gay pornographic writing about a pop culture reference), but the nerd culture and growing up a fangirl (fanboy for Neil). Julia was easy to relate to because of her nerd obsession. I was a huge Lord of the Rings fan in middle school and many of you now know I’m a hardcore Harry Potter fan now. Honestly, I had a discussion about going to a con with my husband after we watched this movie. Nerd culture doesn’t get a lot of coverage in movies and I guess it takes a small movie like this one to flesh it out well. I thought it was really well done.
I loved Neil and thought he was spot on for someone going through the self-discovery he was. Julia was a little harder to believe. At sixteen, I found it hard to believe she had the sexual history with a guy out of high school that she had. With how much she wrote, she obviously cared some about her education and that’s demonstrated with her narrative writing class. Yet she’s skipping almost constantly and her friends have jobs during school hours (did this not make come up as an issue any other time?). She seemed 17 or 18, but sixteen seemed a stretch.
Neil was my favorite character. He was so shy but also very curious. He didn’t know what to think about himself or those around him and I felt he reacted in a very realistic way. I hope a bunch of nerdy fanboys saw this movie and thought, “Wow, it’s OK to feel the way I do about my interests and there are others who like the things I do!” Yes, there are. They might write weird slash fic about it, but they like it, too. Now, there are more productive things Neil could have done with his fandom, but at least he could find people to bond with.
I would say my fic writing was about on par with Julia’s. I wrote a lot in middle school and early high school, experimenting with plotting without having to develop characters. Like her, I could take elements of the plot I thought were underutilized or skipped and go into detail, making up some elements as I went and genuinely having fun. I found her desire for acceptance in writing relatable and her desire to be read. How do y’all think I got here today? 🙂
The relationship between Neil and Julia was wonderfully built. We see them find a camaraderie and become friends, see them build a tension, and see how that unfolds (I don’t want to give too much away!). The end of the movie leaves you feeling hopeful for them despite the conflict they go through because we see them go through conflict before. For such a movie, I thought the relationship had a lot of depth.
I didn’t like how Neil’s age became such a point of contention in the movie. It made him feel very limited. Yes, he’s 15 which means he’s a minor. If he was 17, would anything have been different? Making him 15 only served to have a girl older than him still be underage. The number of characters who mention his age is a bit astounding.
Everyone can find someone who’s just as obsessed with something as they are. That’s a wonderful thing about the internet. It brings together people who would never connect otherwise. Sometimes, like Dennis, they say things they would never voice without anonymity, which can be positive and negative. But being able to find these fellow fans can be a huge bonding activity for people. Look at the explosion of cons and cosplay in the past few years. The internet is wholly responsible.
Writer’s Takeaway: No one should put a limit on what you write. For Neil, it was slash fanfiction. For E.L. James, it’s erotica. For me, it’s 1920s YA fiction. When we try to label something as ‘wrong’ or ‘countercultural,’ that’s not going to stop it from existing. Just because I don’t read something doesn’t mean no one else can or will. We need to embrace that almost anything we can think of has been written and someone either enjoyed writing it or enjoyed reading it. I have to remember this about Jane Austen sometimes.
I really enjoyed this movie and any other nerd who thinks it sounds fun should watch it. Adult content is talked about, but the movie is not graphic in nature. Five out of Five stars.
Until next time, write on