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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Game

A psychological thriller about neurotic rich people

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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September 14, 1997 -- "The Game" is one of those films that requires the viewer to suspend his disbelief to a great extent, but offers pretty good entertainment in return for that effort.

The film stars Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton, as a workaholic investment banker (corporate raider) who has shut out his friends and family. Wounded by his father's suicide and his divorce, he has erected a psychological shell.

His brother, Conrad, (Sean Penn) gets him a birthday gift from a sinister outfit called Consumer Recreation Services, or CRS (also a popular joke about memory loss). Intrigued, Nicholas takes the test and becomes enmeshed in an incredibly elaborate game, involving numerous near-death experiences.

Here's where the suspension of disbelief comes in. This so-called game involves stunts so risky, most of CRS's clients and many of their agents would have died in real life. These kinds of stunts work only in the movies.

Instead, what the movie sets up is an alternate reality sort of thing, such as in the movie "FX" where you can't really tell what's "real" and what is a special-effects illusion. The all-powerful CRS and its multitudes of agents and allies plant clues, unerringly predict Van Orton's next move, and run him like a rat through a maze. In the end, the emotional shell is gone and he's acting sort of like a human.

There are some interesting twists and turns, but the film's climax really pushes credibility right out the window. I can't talk about how it does this without spoiling, the film, however. The other problem with the film is that it is too long, and it doesn't know when to quit.

This is one of those films that could have had a dozen plausible endings. What they should have done was filmed all those alternate endings for the laser disc edition and the let the viewer choose his own ending, sort of like "Wayne's World." Despite its flaws, this movie is a wild ride and it did hold my attention. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. 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 © 1997 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(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)