Zero Charisma is a comedy about That Guy1. You know That Guy, if you’re a gamer nerd. Or if you don’t, you should probably take a good, honest look at your life because you very well might be That Guy.
I honestly did not find Zero Charisma all that funny. That’s because I was too busy cringing in my seat, my hood over my head with the aperture drawn as tightly shut as possible under the laws of physics. This movie is made of pure, distilled awkwardness.
The main character of this movie, Scott, really has been written to have a charisma stat of zero. A man-child with no interpersonal skills and a massive chip on his shoulder, he’s even given an incredibly sympathetic backstory, but quickly throws any audience empathy away by never, at any point, taking the high road or learning from the hideous social mistakes he’s already made. We get that he controls the tabletop game he created because he cannot control anything else in his life–but Scott obviously doesn’t.
I suppose it’s refreshing. If this was a conventional studio movie, by the close of the third act we’d see Scott manage to grow up, regain his friends, say sorry, and maybe get a better haircut, a better car, or even a girlfriend. Isn’t that how men are supposed to be rewarded in these films? Nope. The best we see is the barest glimmer at the end, indicating he may have figured out that people other than him are allowed to make decisions in his game.
Make no mistake, I desperately wanted to empathize with Scott; as a nerd, Scott was designed to be one of my people. I’ve even been in a lot of the horrible situations (whence my literal cringing) as the socially awkward person that the world considers a punchline. Watching this movie was fucking painful at times.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t really see the funny in Zero Charisma other than some very uncomfortable laughter at the beginning. I looked at Scott and thought that could have been me if I’d gone with a slightly less constructive coping strategy. Ultimately, it feels less like a comedy and more like a nerd cautionary tale screaming DON’T BE THAT GUY.
1 – You know, That Guy who always has to know everything and have all the answers and be bored with all of your ideas because he had them first? The one who thinks he’s the Alpha Geek? That Guy who is always nerdier than thou? That Guy who has appointed himself the arbiter of all disputes whether you want it or not? That Guy whose character is the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral? Yeah, fuck that guy.