The Game (1997) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I like this kind of film. Michael Douglas plays a billionaire who has everything in life except joy. On his birthday, his brother (Sean Penn) shows up with a unique present. He has enrolled him in some kind of elaborate fantasy game prepared by a company which does nothing else than create custom-tailored adventures.
Or maybe not. Maybe there is no such company, and a gang of international swindlers has blackmailed the brother into participating in a massive scam to strip the billionaire of all his assets.

Or maybe the people who devised the game just want you to think that.


None. Deborah Unger is seen briefly in a red bra. Not just regarding nudity but in general, the r-rating is a mystery to me.
The audience is placed into Douglas' P.O.V. We know no more than he does, and we try to figure out the different between reality and fantasy, to separate the truth from the lies, to figure out who is or isn't part of the plot, and what exactly the plot is. And every time we think we have the solution, something else snaps our thought process in another direction.

DVD info from Amazon.

Bare bones. There are two versions, standard and widescreen, two trailers, and the usual cheesy bios.

Very elegant and clear transfer to DVD, and that is critical because this is a (deliberately) dark film.

Good show. A really nerve-jangling and paranoid ride while you are watching the movie. If you think about it too closely, it isn't plausible. Too much is based upon Douglas making choices that the manipulators could not have foreseen as precisely as necessary to pull the scheme off. I can't really give any details because I'd spoil it for you, and you do want to see this one. But you don't notice those flaws while it's happening. You just ride the attraction. It's fun, it's elegant, and it's performed well.

It was directed by David Fincher (SE7EN, Fight Club), who is rapidly establishing himself as the king of the mind-fuck movies, but if this guy spends $50 million on a movie, only about five or six bucks of that goes toward lighting. Be that as it may, I am sure becoming a big fan of his intelligent and atmospheric escapist fare. (His next project: Nicole Kidman in The Panic Room)

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: About three stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 62/100.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.5 out of 10, Apollo voters 70/100. The IMDb score is good enough to make the top 250 of all time, but it isn't there. It must have lost out on the additional decimal places. It is rated higher than Titanic, which won all the Oscars that year and is the highest grossing movie of all time.
  • With their dollars ... It took in a solid if unspectacular $50 million at the box on the USA, another $60 million overseas, and $20 million so far in rentals. Made a healthy profit on a $50 million investment.

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