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Laramie Movie Scope: Free Guy

Virtual reality comedy with heart

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 19, 2021 – Ryan Reynolds, whose career was supercharged by the success of “Deadpool” has found another good starring role as video game character “blue shirt Guy” who exceeds his programming to become a romantic hero.

Guy (Reynolds) lives the same day over and over as a bank teller in a bank that gets robbed every day in a video game. Every day, he lies on the floor, hiding from the robbers with his best friend, Buddy the bank guard (played by Lil Rel Howery of “Get Out”). The two talk about their lives. Guy wants to find a woman to be with, while Buddy is afraid to step out of his role.

One day, Guy spots a woman who appeals to him and he pursues her. In the pursuit, he is inspired to become an active player in the video game rather than a passive character. The woman, Millie (Jodie Comer of “Killing Eve”) challenges him to get 100 points in the game before she will take him seriously.

Millie, who is a game developer, is unaware that Guy is not an avatar controlled by a player in the real world. Instead, Guy is a self-aware artificial intelligence entity that is totally unaware of the existence of the real world. Their romance inside the game is unique.

Guy becomes very adept at racking up points in the game by rejecting the homicidal elements of the game. Instead, he decides to be the hero, stopping the bad guys, and collecting their loot in the process. The humanity and heroism of the character makes him the most popular player in the online game.

Eventually, Millie discovers the true nature of Guy, to whom she reveals the existence of the real world. She appeals to him for help in a quest within the game. Somewhere inside the game, there is evidence that the computer code for the game was stolen from her by the head of the game company, Antwan (Taika Waititi of “Jojo Rabbit”).

Millie, her real world game developer partner, Walter “Keys” McKeys (played by Joe Keery of “Molly's Game”) and Guy, along with his fellow game characters, team up to try to find the hidden evidence. Millie and Keys need this evidence to prove that Antwan stole their code, and thus save their game from deletion. For Millie and Keys, this means full recognition as game developers, and money, but for Guy, Buddy and other game characters, the stakes are infinitely higher. Their very existence depends on the success of this quest.

The story is spiced with a lot of humor, some of it has to do with the nature of virtual reality, and the way that humans interact with the game. Not all the jokes work, but most do. The romance between Guy and Millie is the beating heart of the story, and that is powerful.

In truth, the plot does not bear close scrutiny, and it really doesn't make sense all the time, but the characters are strong, and that carries the story. It is, after all, a romantic comedy, so it doesn't really need to be taken so seriously. In many ways, the story, written by Zak Penn (“Ready Player One”) and Matt Lieberman (“The Addams Family”) is quite clever. Numerous visual and musical cultural references to other movies and TV series are presented in the story.

I found this movie to be very engrossing and enjoyable for the most part. Ryan Reynolds is perfect for this role, which seems tailor made for him. The on-screen romantic chemistry between him and Jodie Comer is quite strong. It looks like this is also one of director Shawn Levy's (“The Internship”) best films, too. We have a winner. This movie rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2021 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]