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Plenty of movies use some version of the “nerd experience” to create comedy and sympathetic characters. The lovable loser who learns to fit in with society — or who teaches society how to get along with him — is a standard archetype at this point.

But no other film nails the emotions of being a hardcore nerd like Zero Charisma. The film is the story of Scott, a domineering but lonely guy who controls his own little geek clique as the dungeon master of a long-running role-playing game. His minor social standing is threatened by the intrusion of the funny, good-looking Miles, a guy who seems to be everything Scott cannot become.

Zero Charisma is right on the money when it comes to capturing the personal interactions, obsessions, and insecurities of nerd culture. It can be uncomfortably familiar, but it is hilariously funny as it simultaneously skewers and embraces members of true nerddom. Check out a trailer below.

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“What does Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons do when he goes home at night?” At a post-film Q&A for the role playing game dramedy Zero Charisma, co-director Katie Graham suggested that question, which is wrapped in so much potential comedy and tragedy, as a perfect description of the film. She couldn’t be more right.

Written and co-directed by Andrew Matthews, Zero Charisma premiered at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival this week. It stars Sam Eidson as Scott, an overweight nerd who prides himself on being the Game Master of his weekly tabletop role playing game. The game isn’t Dungeons and Dragons, however, it’s a game of his own design. Scott focuses almost all his energy on it. So much so, that the game stands in for any semblance of a social life or career.

That scenario could have been played strictly for laughs or strictly for tears. Yet Matthews’ script and the performances he and Graham get from the actors help the film expertly tiptoe the line between the two. Scott’s story creates moments of hilarity and pathos, resulting in a relatable, complex film that explores what it means to be uncool. Read More »

All you may need to hear about Zero Charisma is that it follows a tabletop RPG dungeon master who isn’t well-adjusted enough to deal with real life in any fashion. But the film has a great pedigree: Best Worst Movie and The American Scream director and Troll 2 actor Michael Paul Stephenson is the exec producer, and this one was co-directed by Best Worst Movie and The American Scream cinematographer Katie Graham and editor Andrew Matthews.

And then there’s the general approach of the film, which was just programmed as part of SXSW.

Fittingly for the team that brought us the two aforementioned docs, this looks like a film that in many ways provides an insider’s take on games such as Dungeons & Dragons, even as it accepts that the stereotypical vision of adult players is rooted in some sort of reality. From there, it gets a little bit crazy, and the trailer outlines a movie that starts off as a big nerd love letter before turning into something that be more suited to play alongside Big Fan. Read More »

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