Zero Charisma

Zero Charisma is Top Notch Exposition

By Ed Sum


Out of the couple of movies that I’ve seen that tried to make sense of what role playing games (RPG) are about, Zero Charisma is one that can resonate with its intended audience: role playing gamers. A general audience may not clue in right away.

This film fits somewhere between the misconceptions that Mazes and Monsters (1982) inaccurately made and Gamers (2002) successfully satirized. Films made in the past ten years have been more humorous, and that’s good. Films like Zero Charisma has a feel of a comedy-drama with modernist storytelling buried within.


Writer Andrew Matthews crafted an exceptional character study with this film that premiered at South by Southwest, a festival in Texas. He looks at the devotion some people have for a game product and he explores just where does the fun for a game end when reality becomes a bitch. The purpose of gaming is to have fun with a group of like-minded individuals. A good time should be shared by all that want to escape the doldrums or stresses of every-day life.

This film succeeds very well at exploring that fact. It looks at the lifestyles of various people representative of the extremes or closeness to each other much like a six-sided die. Some are complementary and others are just opposites. When Scott Weidemeyer’s (Sam Eidson) gaming group loses a player due to the fact he has to deal with life, this leader of the pack meets an individual simply looking to revisit fond times. Scott invites Miles (Garrett Graham) to join his group. On the first night he is over, this individual charms Weidemeyer’s group with his geeky knowledge. He is a character with plenty of social charm.

Weidemeyer is quite the opposite. His people skills are not up to par, and he stumbles through life like the kid who never grew up. He works in a doughnut shop as a delivery boy. If this guy is beginning to sound like Philip J. Fry from Futurama, perhaps he is. Weidemeyer can’t get any kind of break whatsoever.

Not enough exposition is delivered to explain how his social
upbringing was upheaved. It may have something to do with how his mother left him, but that’s mostly a guess. These days, he finds that life is difficult to deal with when his grandmother’s health is failing. When his mom arrives in a surprise visit, life becomes more difficult.

Eidson is awesome in the role. He effectively plays a character that is pitiable. Viewers may loathe him at first, but empathy gets developed when this character’s back-story is revealed. Directors Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews did a great job at finding actors who could pull off this kind of pathos. That even includes the supporting characters.

Later in the film, viewers may start to feel sympathetic for Weidemeyer. Miles becomes a different kind of despicable because he’s stolen the friends that Weidemeyer enjoyed hanging out with. Although both can be seen as bullies in different contexts, to see these two polar opposites finally come into conflict becomes the most unsettling but enjoyable part of this movie. They are the opposites of that six-sided die, the one and six. The question of which person comes out on top depends on which person is right. The answer may surprise viewers.


4 out of 5