Discovering the Object of the Game IS the Object of the Game.
Quite some time ago, my friend Fabio gave me a small novel’s worth of review requests. Thus far I’ve completed few of them, if any. But I recently decided to endeavor to complete more of my review requests as I had become too lax with them, and Fabio’s name just came up again. It took me a few weeks to look through the list he presented me with, and I finally selected today’s movie. I don’t know why he selected it, and I don’t know much about the movie that couldn’t be gathered looking at the front of the DVD, but let’s find out what I thought about The Game, written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, directed by David Fincher, and starring Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Charles Martinet, and Mark Boone Junior.
Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is rich, and every bit the dick that can accompany that amount of money. He’s celebrating his 48th birthday, though I don’t know if you could call it celebration the way he does it. Plus, his father was 48 when he committed suicide, so he’s got that goin’ for him. His estranged brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), contacts him about getting together for lunch, and at lunch he gives him his birthday present: a voucher for a “game” at Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Nicholas begrudgingly agrees to call them after Conrad insists that it will change his life. After a lengthy application process, Van Orton’s game begins. He finds a wooden clown in his driveway with a key in its mouth, and then the TV tells him that his game is starting, but gives him no more information than that. Part of the point of the game is to find out the point of the game, after all.
It took me a little while to warm up to this movie, but I did enjoy it when it all came together. It winds up being pretty thrilling and mysterious, but it gets started pretty slow and uneventful. Hell, Nicholas’ application process felt like we were watching it in real time, and they filmed HIM complaining about it. At this point, I could just see them making the trailer for this movie. THRILL as Michael Douglas fills out paperwork. DELIGHT as the lead on his pencil breaks! KILL YOURSELF as he looks at pictures! But then the game got started and the movie became more of a mystery and a thriller than paperwork. But I never thought the movie was quite that mysterious. Once the concept of the game was introduced, I was already instantly suspicious of everyone. The harder they tried to make me think someone was safe, the less I believed it. The part with Nicholas’ brother Conrad did surprise me at the end of the movie, and then it surprised me again shortly after, but I didn’t actually like it. The ending just felt weird and unsatisfying after the build up to it. It felt like the writer had a great idea for the movie but forgot he had to end it. But the rest of the movie still had enough thrills to make the movie worth the watch. I know one thing for sure: I would punch my sister right in her stupid face if she tried to pull this shit on me. At first it was harmless enough, being just a series of elaborate pranks like hiding a clown in the driveway, changing the lock on a briefcase, ruining a shirt, but when they got into the part with getting shot at, getting drugged, thinking I killed people, then I’m a little pissed off with this stupid game. I also don’t know how it would benefit me beyond making my life more interesting than watching movies and writing stuff all day for a couple of days, but he did seem like less of a dick by the end of the movie.
Also (just a random thought) don’t they act like it’s the fall that kills them and not the impact? So if (HYPOTHETICALLY) someone were to jump off of a roof thinking they were committing suicide, wouldn’t their heart have stopped by the time they hit a safety net? Hypothetically, of course. And how would someone figure out exactly which random point on the roof he would jump off in order to set up a safety net? And how do blanks break a champagne bottle? Y’know what? This isn’t the time or place for my random, non-sequitur thoughts. Let’s move on.
The performances in the movie were all great. Michael Douglas did a really good job. He started out all Wall Street and ends up all Falling Down. I had nearly no problems with his performance. One problem was that he didn’t punch his brother (and maybe even Deborah Kara Unger) right in their faces. The other is that he’s supposed to be this high-powered investment banker, but he signs the CRS contract without even reading it? Deborah Kara Unger did a good job too. She was pretty difficult to figure out. I was always suspicious of her, but she seemed to walk the line between trust and not, and I was never sure which way to go. I was positive how I felt about her around the time she was acting like Douglas got her fired when she spilled a drink all over his expensive suit. He didn’t get you fired; you deserved to get fired all on your own! Not only did you spill on him, but you called him an asshole in earshot of the customer and your boss, and he wasn’t even acting that angry. Most people would flip out much more over much less. But perhaps that’s just the perspective of someone that’s worked retail for far too long. Also, I understand her not wanting to get out of the elevator first if she wasn’t wearing underwear, but she doesn’t want to grab his hand to get out because there’s grease on it? Fine then, bitch! You stay there with your clean hands. You can sit and admire how clean they are while waiting for someone to find you, and you can eat your fingers like Werner Herzog in Jack Reacher when you get hungry. Also, Mark Boone Junior (the Shady Private Investigator) looks a lot like Ariel Castro. …Just sayin’…
The Game was an interesting movie that ended a little weak, but had enough thrills throughout to keep itself interesting. The story was decent up until the ending, even if it didn’t make that much sense, and the movie kept me interested even if I never felt it was that mysterious. And the performances were all pretty great. I’d say this movie was worth renting at least. The Game gets “Think of it as a great vacation, except you don’t go to it. It comes to you” out of “There goes a thousand dollars.”
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