Reviewed by Bob Currie
Rating: 9 Beans
he Game" is one of those frustrating movies that shows potential, reels you in, then spits in your eye and laughs in your face. Does it sound like I recommend this movie? Do you enjoy getting mud splashed on you by a speeding taxi?
Anyway, "The Game" stars Michael Douglas ("Wall Street") as, well, basically the same guy he played in "Wall Street". Except instead of trying to mesmerize Charlie Sheen ("Hot Shoots Part Deux") he's got to deal with his kid brother Sean Penn ("Shanghai Surprise"), who's got a troubled past, perhaps some gambling debts, and unlike brother Mikey, a life. So to celebrate Mikey's birthday ever thoughtful Sean enrolls him in some sort of super-ultra-yuppie-roleplaying whatzit that we spend the rest of the movie trying to figure out. The point of the game seems to be to get fuddy duddy Mike excited about something other than his stock portfolio.
Credibility gets its first of many workouts with control freak Mike's submission to a grueling, humiliating battery of psychological tests in order to qualify for the game, but at the hands of director David "Sorry about Alien3" Fincher ("Se7en") we are actually willing to suspend disbelief. Mikey proceeds to go through a series of truly embarrassing moments, with clients, at his posh gentlemen's club, and in a thoroughly trashed hotel room that even Led Zepplin would have been proud of. Watching SuperYuppieman Mikey go through all this degradation is like watching an upscale version of "Falling Down" (does Mikey ever take different roles?). But all these scenes play out much like bad dreams we've all experienced, so we find ourselves both chuckling at Mikey loss of control and empathizing with his helplessness.
The plot takes more twists and turns than Robert Downey Jr on his way home from a cast party, yet the pacing is brisk enough, the action urgent enough, and in this conspiracy happy America we live in it kinda-sorta-mighta made some sense EXCEPT for the ending. Now, if you intend to watch this flick (say it ain't so!), despite being forewarned, stop reading this review, although I promise you you'll hate yourself in the morning if you do. The rest of you, carry on...
It appears that the game is an elaborate plot to siphon all of Mikey's assets and he is left for dead somewhere in Mexico. He is pennyless, & has to practically walk back home to the US. He has learned that virtually all the people he has met since the game began are actors, and EVERTHING is a set-up. So he confronts his antagonists on the roof of their headquarters, & accidentally shoots & kills little bro Sean who, he learns, set this whole thing up as, believe it or not, a harmless joke. Totally devastated, Mikey jumps off the roof, crashes through a huge skylight dozens of stories below, and... lands on an airmattress. Low and behold, it really WAS all a joke, and in fact little bro Sean is a-okay, except he wants big bro Mikey to split the bill for all that he has endured. And Mikey says okay. And all of Mikey's friends are there to toast him on his birthday. And I threw my soda cup at the screen. David Fincher, you are not forgiven for "Alien3" and you will NEVER be forgiven for this.
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