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GU Movie Reviews: Gamers
Author: Michael Ahlf 
Date: September 20th 2006

Every now and then, movies are made off of video games or board games. We've all been exposed to travesties like Street Fighter or Super Mario Bros, or lesser semi-successes like Mortal Kombat.

Nerds aren't exactly strangers to the mockumentary style either, the idea of a "documentary" on a cult phenomenon. Most of us have probably seen, or at least heard of, films like Trekkies that lampoon their subjects.

Director Chris Folino, himself a World of Warcraft player, taps into some of the more outlandish gamer stereotypes with Gamers, his own fictional mockumentary on the subject. Currently, it's not in feature release, but instead is making the rounds of conventions and film festivals and is available on the direct market. And he's got quite a cast for it, too: all SAG actors, including William Katt,  Kelly LeBrock (Weird Science) and to narrate, the illustrious Michael Bell (ah screw it, he's been in just about everything including several video games).

The plot of the movie is simple enough: four gamers have been playing their roleplaying game, called Demons, Nymphs, & Dragons (DnD), for 23 years. One of them has been taping every session, using a video camera originally intended for a different purpose. The mockumentary chronicles their hopes, their dreams, their daily lives and semi-pathetic day jobs, as they work towards an all-weekend session that will make their campaign the officially longest-running DnD campaign in history. All players in the "Four Horsemen" have a serious lack of steady day jobs, girlfriends, and life outside of the game, epitomizing the stereotypes which infect the hobby. Matching up well with other satirical takes such as the Knights of the Dinner Table, "DnD" is your basic ripoff of old-school Dungeons & Dragons, with a few terms from other offshoot games thrown in.

The underlying plot of the movie follows the four gamers, so close to their goal and beating their main rivals thanks to a "freak cornhusking accident", watching their group splinter as members finally cope with their lack of lives and personal issues. Paul, the group's self-appointed historian, pushes to keep the group together while the rest, especially their "newest" and most unbalanced member Reese, start flying apart at the seams. Kevin's (Kevin Sherwood) songs for day-care kids are worth several laughs, Reese's (Dave Hanson) Madden-addicted boss and penchant for grief over his dead characters, Fernando's (Joe Nieves) attempts at womanizing, and even the "history" involving Johnny (Ben Bessmer), the member Reese replaced due to circumstances involving a knife and taking the game way too seriously, add over-the-top humor to the mockumentary.

The film's structure has the mockumentary form down pat - rather than work on extended scenes, director Folino tried instead to work in a joke for every scene, including member Fernando (who learned to speak English at DnD sessions) trying in-game pickup lines on real girls. A few jokes fall flat, a few are good for laughs, and a few - such as a scene regarding a gay mexican Ronald McDonald making "tapes" for Paul - cross the line in a flying hurdle and definitely earn the film a "not for children" rating. Plenty of the jokes are things gamers have heard for years ("have no life", "take it way too seriously") and I'm delighted to say I don't know anyone that fully fits the caricatures that the actors portray so perfectly, but the underlying jokes and references (grief over a dead character) are there in a way that most gamers will probably say they know someone like "those guys."

As long as you've got an audience old enough (not kidding - shoo the kids out of the room) Gamers is a film every gamer ought to see at least once. Check for it at your local film festival, or it can be ordered directly off of the film's website. Enjoy it, laugh at it, and be glad you're not them. I hope.

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Alternatively, post 'em right here for everyone to see!






Movies: Gamers

Added:  Thursday, September 21, 2006
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf


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