Fun Size has all the trappings of a kid-friendly antidote to the typical, scare-heavy Halloween fare: Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice, a cute little ‘adventures in babysitting’ story, a precocious kid…

It also has all the promise of a mildly raunchy teen-happy flick: hero-to-adolescents Josh Schwartz as director, all manner of bathroom humor, the always off-color Chelsea Handler…

So why they decided to split the difference is a little puzzling and is what ultimately leads to Fun Size falling far short of what it could have been. Either way.

Just when high-schooler Wren (Justice) and her best friend April (Jane Levy) are heading out to a big, super-cool party thrown by a cool, super-hot boy, they get the bad news that Wren’s mom (Handler) is off to her own party with her much-younger fella, leaving Wren with the babysitting duties of little brother Albert.

It takes all of a half-hour for Wren to lose Albert, a kid who’s been mute-by-choice since the passing of their father a year earlier. April still wants to hit the party, but Wren knows she has to find the kid or else she’ll be grounded for, like 96 years.

Albert, meanwhile, is off on his own adventure, tag-teaming with a convenience store clerk named Fuzzy (aptly named, since he bears more than a passing resemblance in looks and manner to Scooby-Doo’s Shaggy). Fuzzy (Thomas Middleditch) is on a mission to get a little revenge (of the TP-ing variety) on his ex-girlfriend, and little Albert is a perfect wingman.

From there we get all kinds of Halloween night hijinks, including a molested Volvo, a live-fired musket, and a wrestling match with a Sumo. Plenty of material, sure– but not much pay-off.

Schwarz obviously wanted to play it safe by picking Fun Size for his directing debut, but it’s frankly surprising. The man behind such cutting-edge and creative TV series like Chuck, Gossip Girl, and The O.C. has been around quality material for most of his adult life, but here he seems to have forgotten everything he’s ever learned. Fun Size is sloppy, pedestrian, and downright boring at times.

The cast tries to pick up the pieces where it can, with Middleditch (who deserves his own movie) and Levy stealing the show. And occasional cameos by the likes of Johnny Knoxville, Kerri Kenney, and Ana Gasteyer elevate the festivities a little, but the script by Max Werner (The Colbert Report) leaves them all without much room to move.

Had he decided to live a little, Werner could have finally made a really good, edgy Halloween comedy along the lines of American Pie or Superbad. He could have been the cool guy on the block, passing out full-size candy bars to all the trick-or-treaters. As it is though, Fun Size may leave you saying exactly what you do when you get its confectionary namesake: this thing isn’t very fun at all.

2/5 stars