The Game (1997) — A mind-twisty birthday present

“Discovering the object of the game IS the object of the game.”

Justin’s rating: Beats the stuffing out of Disclosure, that’s for sure.

Justin’s review: I have a few rules about movies that set out to mess with the audience’s mind. First off, it has to make sense at the end. I’ve seen way too many “surprise plot twist ending!” that not only were impossible to predict (Wild Things, American Psycho), but they also made no sense once you look back at the film for a second time. Second, the journey — a mix of mystery and suspense — has to be enjoyable along the way, not a tedious plod through an elaborate setup that’s only fun once you get to the end. Fortunately, David Fincher’s odyssey of intrigue and circles-within-circles The Game did not violate my rules, and it’s so much the better for it.

I initially saw this film with Kym, who went in the theater with me expecting nothing at all. That’s the best kind of movie experience, I think, to discover a terrific film all on your own, without any help from critics or widespread word of mouth. When we came out of The Game, my mind was spinning with questions and thoughts, but I left feeling satisfied. I like having to chew over a movie that managed to slip the rubber sheet right out from under me.

Recently, only a few movies have come close to the satisfaction that I got from The Game, and I’ll list them here: The Usual Suspects, Fight Club, and The Spanish Prisoner. And I assure you that none of those films have the sheer number of plot twists and surprises as The Game.

I mean, with a title and theme like this, it gets me wondering what the next game-to-movie transition might be. Perhaps Candyland: The Peanut Brittle Wars. Mousetrap: Beyond Thunderdrome. Uno, Part Dos. You Bet Yer Sorry! Trivial Pursuit of Love. Who knows?

So what to say about this movie without spoiling it? Virtually nothing. Like Morpheus said in The Matrix, you have to experience The Game for yourself. Trust me, no matter how confused you might be watching it, at least Michael Douglas is there to echo your bewilderment along the way. It’s a trip, and I guaruntee you’ll be thinking about it days afterwards. Sure, you might develop a deep mistrust of clown dummies and red bras, but it’s all for the best. Heh. Heh.

Kyle’s rating: Figure out if you’re reading a real review . . . or not!

Kyle’s review: The Game is a film so nice you must see it twice. Just sit there stoically through the first viewing, watching as Michael Douglas gets a mysterious gift from brother Sean Penn and then proceeds to lose control over his highly compartmentalized life. What’s really going on? Who the hell is that? How did he know that? Is that Michael Douglas’ real hair?

These are the questions you’ll be asking during The Game, and you’ll be pleased to find the answers by the end. The second viewing will allow you to recognize things you might have missed and let you see the plot with your eyes wide open, so to speak. Trust me, trust in life, and trust that you’ll love The Game. But don’t trust any strange birthday presents from now on, alright?

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