The main cast of Not Cool. Photo from www.imdb.com.
By Siobhan Becker
Not everyone understands Internet comedy. It can involve cursing, crude jokes and sex to attract viewers, resulting in online content that often crosses the line. Young viewers are used to watching far-fetched characters like Annoying Orange, Smosh and Aunt Hilda act out a plot in short videos on YouTube, but for the first time this fall, they can watch a YouTube sensation hit the big screen.
YouTuber Shane Dawson was given the opportunity to achieve his dream of directing a movie through “The Chair,” a filmmaking experiment undertaken by entertainment company Starz Inc. Chris Moore, creator of “The Chair,” said in an interview that he selected Dawson and his competitor from a group of five potential candidates because he was working with a smaller budget.
“So, there were five people that I had either worked with as writers or actors, or in some capacity where they indicated that they wanted to be directors and I thought they had a skill set to become directors,” Moore said.
Dawson and his competitor, Anna Martemucci, co-wrote, directed and starred in two separate movies based on the same screenplay written by Dan Schoffer. Martemucci’s film, “Hollidaysburg,” is a more restrained approach to Schoffer’s screenplay. The $250,000 prize will be awarded to the film that receives the most audience votes through multi-platform voting. “The Chair” has not made clear what devices, websites or apps will be involved in the voting process yet.
Dawson’s version, “Not Cool” premiered on Sept. 19 in Burbank, California. The movie follows college students Tori (Cherami Leigh) and Scott (Dawson) as they reunite unexpectedly over Thanksgiving Break.
Tori, who spent most of her high school existence making herself invisible, has made a new name for herself in college and successfully avoids a high school reunion until she accidentally hits Scott, the former prom king, with her car. Tori tries to convince Scott that college is a chance to start over and draws up a “F— it list” for Scott to complete so he can move past high school. Items on the infamous list include defecating on his ex-girlfriend’s lawn and eating pot brownies.
While some of the romantic scenes between Scott and Tori are cliché and overdone, the chemistry between the two appears genuine on screen. Supporting characters Joel (Drew Monson), Janie (Michelle Veintimilla) and Marissa (Lisa Schwartz) provided deeper insights into both Dawson’s and Leigh’s characters.
Dawson, who grew to fame on YouTube, incorporated the explicit content that his videos are famous for into Schoffer’s screenplay.
Frank Scheck of the Hollywood Reporter predicted that Dawson’s movie would not win the competition because of its offensive content and strong language. However, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, “Not Cool” made $10,000 on its opening night, currently beating “Hollidaysburg” at the box office. Sam Gutelle of IMDb reported that the movie reached the Top 5 spot on iTunes within hours of its release.
“To Hollywood, the iTunes chart’s huge,” Dawson said in a video uploaded one week before the movie’s release. “If you are in the top five, then you have succeeded, and they will give you more money to make another movie.”
Dawson’s past spoofs and comedy sketches have featured sexual content, adult language and fake bodily fluids like vomit and feces. He uploaded his first video in 2008 and by April 2010, his channel was the third most subscribed to on YouTube. Dawson’s version of “Not Cool” has a chance at success because his audience appreciates his brand of comedy.
“This movie is actually super good,” YouTube user iloveshenaegrimes commented. “Nothing is spectacular, but it was genuinely hilarious and had me laughing out loud. The fact that this is really made by Shane, someone who understands our humor in this generation really helped it become funny.”
“Not Cool” is on available on the iTunes store, Amazon, Google Play and on VUDU, Walmart’s online and television media retailer.