I’m a sucker for geek love in movies. The moment when a gorgeous, otherworldly figure enters the picture, throwing the geek equilibrium out of whack. The moment when one geek decides to woo said goddess, only to have his dreams crushed when his comic book and “Star Wars” know-how doesn’t impress her. The moment when the dejected geek realizes that maybe, just maybe, someone who appreciates him in all his geeky glory has been waiting in the sidelines all along.
It’s a fairly predictable formula that’s been used onscreen many, many times, but I love it all the same. Sure it can be a bit overdone sometimes, but when it works, I find it completely charming. And luckily for writer-director Greg Koorhan, in his latest short film “Level Up,” the geek love formula is pitch-perfect.
Tim (Leo Koorhan) and Maggie (Laura Piccoli) are two high school friends who have a mutual passion for video games. Controllers in hand and eyes glued to the screen, with the occasional break for pizza rolls, is how Tim and Maggie spend every day after school.
But when pretty, popular Amanda (Mia Vallet) starts showing Tim some attention when she needs help on a test, hormones take over. Amanda’s presence throws off the nerdy best friends’ comfortable routine.
Tim begins to wonder if relationships might be more thrilling than video games, and Maggie begins to question her feelings for Tim. Tim and Maggie might be masters of the Xbox, but when it comes to the real world, their skills aren’t quite up to par.
“Level Up” is a delightful 22-minute look at two people coming to terms with their connection and taking it to the next level. The movie is rife with video game analogies that reflect Tim and Maggie’s escalating tension, but it never feels forced or clichéd.
The writing is clever, and Leo Koorhan and Piccoli’s delivery is perfectly timed. Tim and Maggie both feel like people I would have known in high school. They both seem very real. And, like pretty much everyone in life, they’re both just trying to figure it all out.
Greg Koorhan’s direction is very slice-of-life, a refreshingly realistic departure from the unbelievable feel of so many other nerd-finds-love comedies. Juxtaposed with Joe Moser’s quirky video game-inspired score, it signifies Tim and Maggie’s transition from their comfortable gaming bubble to something greater.
“Level Up,” is funny, fresh and relatable and will surely leave a smile on your face. It’s currently playing the film festival circuit. To learn more about the movie, visit www.levelupmovie.com.
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