Film Geek (2005)

Starring: Melik Malkasian, Tyler Gannon, Tara Walker

Writer/Director: James Westby

Company: First Run Features

WARNING: Spoilers for the end of the movie in the comments section.

When watching Film Geek, many thoughts occurred to me: a) it’s ironic that I’m watching a movie based around a video store clerk on the very service that is killing them and b) this movie is a lot better than what I was expecting. Film Geek stars Malkasian as Scott Pelk, a socially awkward film geek (guess where they got the title?) who works at a local Portland, Oregon video store. His abrasive personality, and lack of social grace, makes him a nuisance to the patrons who come to the store and his co-workers, who don’t care about what Jean Luc Goddard has done or the in’s and out’s of Aliens. When not at the store, he is at his small apartment covered in VHS tapes and movie posters, eating cereal and obsessively updating his personal film site, which still has 0 views.

Eventually, his boss has enough of his antics and fires Scott. Scott is heartbroken, and takes a job at a local auto parts warehouse, after failed attempts to get a job at the other Portland video stores. One day, Scott meets hipster Niko (Taylor Gannon), who is able to match him on film knowledge, but is initially turned off by his awkwardness. Scott decides to pursue her anyway with the same obsessiveness he approaches film, and eventually they strike a shaky friendship…which Scott wants to be more than that.

The best way to describe Scott Pelk is to compare him to the character of Abed from the NBC show Community. In fact, the two are so similar that you think the Community creator saw Film Geek and decided to tweak the character a little bit for a mainstream audience. Melik Malkasian does an excellent job playing Scott, with all his little quirks and his vast film knowledge. It feels very honest and very realistic, like he’s actually the character as opposed to just acting like the character. The great thing about the Scott Pelk character is that he isn’t quirky just for the sake of being quirky. There’s a hidden sadness to him that comes out in spurts. Yes, he’s obsessed with movies, but there’s a reason behind it. It is perfectly summed up in the line “movies let you be other people”. Scott can sense he’s socially awkward and while he tries to change it, he never can seem to and he sinks himself into film because he hates himself. It’s a pretty deep character for a 78 minute film.

Film Geek isn’t a character study in the way that The Wrestler was. This is a comedy, pure and simple, and Melik is hilarious. His rapid fire delivery of favorite films and the way he adds “um, yeah probably” and other phrases in between his sentences is great. He is great with the traditional awkward mannerisms (not looking anyone in the face, coughing violently the first time he smokes, trying to put his arm around Niko) and I laughed at a lot he did. I cannot say enough about Melik Malkasian; he’s simply great.

The direction by James Westby is simple, but works and I especially liked the parts where it would list different Top 5’s for Scott, from “Favorite Peter Jackson Films” to “Favorite Date Movies”. Film Geek obviously has a very small budget, and Westby does well with it, keeping it to simple locations and hiring a very capable cast to handle the material.

I did have a few complaints with Film Geek though. Malkasian’s voice can be really annoying in spots. He’s got a very Urkel-like nerd squeal and when it’s done non-stop, it can get grating. The relationship between Scott and Niko was also very generic independent quirky romance, where the lovable goof tries to land the really hot girl who’s out of his league. The low budget of Film Geek also causes the soundtrack to be around four different songs, and the “theme” gets overplayed and annoying reeeeeeeeeal quick.

My biggest complaint was with the ending. Film Geek‘s story and pacing lead to a very realistic conclusion, but in the final five minutes it completely falls apart and ruins it. I won’t spoil it for obvious reasons, but I audibly shouted “REALLY?!?” at the screen. It almost ruined my experience. (note -4/13/10: Ray Dyker gladly filled me on the very obvious point of the ending in the comments section, and I have changed my stance on this…but I’m going to leave the review itself unchanged so I don’t come off like the George Lucas of film criticism)

But ruin my experience it didn’t, and overall, I really enjoyed Film Geek. It’s a low budget independent character study about a socially awkward guy who’s obsession with film is both a way to get close to people and to draw himself away. For any movie nerd, or film critic, or anyone who likes film more than the latest Michael Bay art house picture, Film Geek is worth a watch. It’s made for that kind of crowd.

Final Verdict:


Catch Film Geek on Netflix Watch Instantly!


2 Responses to “Film Geek (2005)”

  1. 1 Ray Dyker
    April 13, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Dude! Good review but the ending is GREAT because it’s a FANTASY! The last shot of the movie shows him jerking off over he sink…

    • April 13, 2010 at 10:47 am

      You know what? That makes perfect sense, and I’m an idiot for not getting it haha. I feel like I should knock it to a 4 now, but I don’t wanna mess with the review. Thank you for connecting that piece. For some reason, I read it completely differently when I saw it. That’s what you get when it’s midnight and your roommate won’t shut up when you’re trying to finish a movie.

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