Many movies have been made about people becoming part of games [TRON], mistaking a war game for a video game [WARGAMES], and game players [THE WIZARD]. But the WalMart/Procter & Gamble Family Film Night partnership has produced a new angle on the video game movie: a film about the people behind video games. And it's entertaining, has some good lessons, and is generally a fun flick.
When industrious high school gamer Zach Taylor lands a prized scholarship to the prestigious Digital Institute of Game Design (DIGD), his future breaks wide open. The opportunity to study under gaming legend Marcus Bentton and alongside the country’s most creative minds will certainly propel him into a successful career as a video game designer. That is, if he can pass the infamous freshman project that eliminates more than half of the class within the first three months.
Paired with brilliant yet socially awkward teammates Phillip and Donald, the trio persuades Sara Ramirez – a determined and striking team leader with whom Zach has a history (and possibly a future) – to join their team. Working off-campus in the teched-out Lincoln Alley loft, the four set out to involve the entire campus in a quirky new social interactive game. But as the group becomes entrenched in the project, Zach learns that his father Billy, a widower, is facing growing financial woes at home. To help out, Zach accepts an opportunity to work directly with Marcus Bentton on a secretive side project that seems too good to be true.
Too Much of a Good Thing
I'm not a gamer, but this movie about the people behind the games makes me almost interested enough to want to change that. Almost. Some of the most entertaining parts of the film [for me, at least] were about how games are made, and the teams of people that create them. The beginning of the film is fast-paced – almost too much so, with dialog spoken so rapidly that it's hard to understand.
What's not hard to understand is how the story is going to unfold. While the Family Movie Night partnership is producing clean entertainment, it's just this side of being predictable clean entertainment. Watching this film reminded me of the last Family Movie Night film. The topic may be different, but the characters are very similar, as are the story paths, and even the types of villains encountered.
Teenagers [more often a male than a female] encounter some type of problem they must solve, and that usually involves rescuing one or more parents from either dire circumstances [losing a business, disappearance, physical peril] or an inability to communicate with their children. The wife or mother is usually smarter and more compassionate than the father, who is typically the one needing the most rescue.
There will be a villain who can easily be outwitted by the teenager, and whose comeuppance, once delivered, is underscored by a meaningful yet playful verbal abuse at the hands of another adult.
Formulas Aren't All Bad
I'm not against formulas – I like a good spy flick or chick flick as much as the next person. But they must work. Otherwise they're just a bad version of an okay formula. Almost everything works in this film. Almost. What doesn't?
Throwing Christmas into the mix just because the film is showing in December. The film is really over, but then suddenly there's a Christmas party and Santa appears and people are giving each other gifts. Whaaaaat? Where was the lead-up to that? No tiny decorations appeared onscreen to hint that Christmas is coming. We know they're in the first semester of college, which usually ends around Christmas, but Thanksgiving got skipped entirely. Halloween didn't even make an appearance.
If you get the beginning right and the ending right, people will go away with a good feeling. For me, the ending makes me feel a little duped, and like I need to do my Christmas shopping. I think I'll go to WalMart. Where I'll be able to pick up this DVD next week.
GAME OF YOUR LIFE is not rated, but is easily G. Younger kids will probably appreciate the video games, and there's nothing harmful to anyone other than the shameless Christmas plug at the end.
Courtesy of a national publicist, Angela previewed GAME OF YOUR LIFE.