Stickmen (2000) from C2000

This could be termed a "reverse buddy" movie - the story of three mates - Jake, Wayne and Thomas - who enter a local pool tournament for a prize pot of NZ $ 20000. As the tournament progresses they grow apart as a result of their experiences. They encounter love, friendship, betrayal and obsession during journeys of personal discovery. It addresses issues of life and relationships from a unique perspective. Sounds reasonable for a low budget production. This is probably the story that was sold to the New Zealand Film Commission to obtain funding. Here is what I think really happened: 


  • Simone Kessell has an extended topless scene in bed with Jake.
  • Angie Meiklejohn is briefly topless in a dark sex scene.
A group of mates, containing wannabe actors and filmmakers, like to hang out in bars and play pool. When one of them is made redundant he decides to write a script about a group of mates who hang out in bars and play pool! He is inspired by the story of the real "Stickmen", who guess what: are mates who play pool. The writer together with his mates Mr Director and Ms Producer embark on procuring the finance necessary to produce the film. This would appear an impossible task as a film about pool is unlikely to be a commercial success. However, as this is a local film involving local talent they can qualify for a grant from the New Zealand Film Commission. However, not even a film commission is likely to approve funding for a film exclusively concerned about a group of guys playing pool. They introduce the "serious" issues - love, friendship, betrayal and obsession - pocket the funding and Stickmen becomes reality. Come to think of it, the movie may have been better if the first part focused on how the movie came about as opposed to two extra games of pool.

Back to the movie. The guys play pool, meet girls, play pool again, break up, and play more pool. Spot the trend? A measure of diversion is provided by two girls - Karen (Simone Kessell) and Sara - entering the lives of Jake and Thomas, respectively. The girls clearly have an agenda that the boys fail to realize.

  • (refers to: Region 2 DVD)

  •  Many additional features including a making of documentary, commentary with writer and director, cast biography, photo gallery and trailers.

This is and was always going to be a film about pool with the consequence that the story is largely predictable. There is too much pool - surely not every single shot in every game had to be shown. Being a low budget movie it seems that the only special effects they had were the pool shots and wished to maximize this. The "serious" issues mentioned above served as mere window dressing. The filmmakers missed the opportunity of doing something unique - looking at life through pool. However, it is unlikely they ever had any intention of doing so. Being revealed 15 minutes prior to the intended denouement dilutes the one major plot twist, involving the girls. The acting is good and the cast does an excellent job of keeping the viewer interested. This is aligned to good character development, largely due to the cast, and there are interesting cameos. The filmmakers deserve an award for one thing: the film was test screened to a group of 16 year old male media studies students! This is a practice that must be made compulsory in Hollywood.

I score this 53/100. It is decent and pretty good for a film about pool but not a must see by any means.  

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews onlne

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.1 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C.

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