GAMERS: Unrated DVD Exposes Ultimate Gaming Nerds|
Written by Mark Smith
August 3, 2006
Until last month Office Space had been my all-time favorite movie since it released back in 1999. That movie came out at a time when I was working in a cubicle environment and I could identify with the characters and relate to all the pokes at office etiquette. The following year I lost that job (something about TPS cover sheets), and got into gaming (video gaming) full-time.
So when Grandma’s Boy – a movie about gaming nerds who work at a video game company and live with their parents (or grandparents) hit DVD I was strangely compelled to watch and rewatch this movie until I can now recite the dialogue pretty much verbatim.
Now, a month later and a few thousand brain cells lighter I am asked to review a new indie film called GAMERS. Admittedly, I was taken in by the title immediately thinking this was another take on the lifestyles of obsessive nerds such as those portrayed in Trekkies, but with a gaming twist. For the most part, I was right, but rather than video games, GAMERS explores the mysterious and obsessive world of role-playing.
GAMERS tells the twisted tale of four “losers” who suck at sports, have lame jobs, no girlfriends, and still live at home. (Why wasn't I asked to consult on this?) They all met in high school where they started playing “Demons, Nymphs, and Dragons” (DND). Interestingly enough, the filmmakers did have the rights to use “Dungeons & Dragons” until about two days before filming started. Apparently, D&D didn’t want their role-playing game to be cast in an unfriendly light.
Anyway, for the past 23 years these guys have been coming together to play this game and they have logged more than 74,568 hours, just 12 hours short of breaking the world record. GAMERS takes us on a comical journey that explores the events leading up to this momentous 12-hour event as well as delving into the past (and futures) of each of the players.
Shot in a mocumentary format not unlike that of Spinal Tap, Chris Folino has created a rather unique piece of cinematic landscape that blends elements of Napoleon Dynamite with established classics like Office Space and Grandma’s Boy. The movie is narrated by Michael Bell who already has more than 260 voice and acting credits in movies, TV, and video games, giving the entire project a lot more "cred".
Even more impressive is just how good the production value of this film is given the shoestring budget. While I never caught a dollar figure out of the commentaries, given the fact that this film was shot using two cars and a few houses, all within the same neighborhood, I’m guessing the home theater I used to watch this movie might have cost more than the film itself.
The movie focuses on four main characters; Kevin, the Dungeon Lord (DL) who keeps his non-DND life a secret from his players. He is an aspiring musician who sings kids songs as well as performs for his players before gaming.
Dave Hanson steals the entire show with his obsessive attitudes and mostly-improved scenes. Just turn this guy loose in front of the camera and hilarity will ensue whether he is stuffing his underwear with jerky or humping a telephone while cursing his DL for killing Farah, his original female cleric, three minutes into the game. And don’t even think about pirating this DVD or you’ll have to deal with Dave after the FBI is through will you.
Scott Rinker comes into this production with an impressive list of TV credits that include The Unit, Crossing Jordon, Enterprise, and several episodes of Ghost Whisperer. He plays Paul, probably the most normal guy in the bunch, which isn’t saying much. He is the character responsible for videotaping their game sessions all these years after his dream of becoming Ronald McJones, a Mexican fast food clown, was shattered after viewing some gay clown porn. He also has a self-imposed ban on swearing, which takes an ugly turn at the end of the movie.
Supporting the core cast of gaming geeks is an impressive line-up of Hollywood talent in a variety of off-the-wall cameo roles. When I say “impressive” I’m referring to the fact that the filmmakers were actually able to talk these people (or their agents) into appearing in this film.
We start off with a hilarious performance from John Heard (Home Alone, Battlestar Galactica) who plays Gordon’s dad. Mom is played by Beverly D'Angelo (also known as the mom in the Vacation movies). These two characters have a few great moments ranging from watching PPV porn on Gordon’s “Nelson”-equipped TV to attending a retirement party for one of Gordon’s DND characters.
William Katt, (Greatest American Hero) who has more than one hundred projects on his resume, turns in a brilliant performance as Reese’s boss and ex-RPG gamer who is now obsessed with the franchise mode in Madden Football. If only we all had bosses this cool. "The 'sucks' all on you."
Kelly LeBrock, best known for her performance as fantasy-girl Lisa in Weird Science, is twenty years older but just as sexy as ever in her role as Angela’s mom who answers the door in mid-orgasm. Angela is played by the stunning Meredith Zealy (Comeliness: 17) who some might remember as Maggie in The Notebook. Don't even attempt a saving throw - you will be captivated by her charm every second she is on the screen.
All of these actors turn in dynamic performances that make you wonder if there was even a script. Everything just seems to flow naturally and is very believable. If you didn’t recognize some of the bigger Hollywood talent you’d actually think these were the real parents, friends, and coworkers of these gamers.
The flow of the movie is pretty random at times with flashbacks that defy the “mocumentary” concept, but serve as a much-needed foundation for the characters. There are a few “Adam Sandler” gross-out moments that will certainly stand out including a Something About Mary-inspired scene where Fernando (dressed in goggles and raincoat) is collecting horse semen in a bucket, and a disturbing moment where Reese gets to “second base” with a “real” girl that should not be watched by anyone who is lactose intolerant.
The DVD has a few bonus features that include several deleted scenes, two feature-length commentary tracks with assorted cast and crew, as well as interviews with cast members about their experience with the movie and their favorite scene(s). Commentary #1 is hysterical with most of the primary cast as well as Chris Folino injecting humorous anecdotes about the shoot. Perhaps it was just watching the movie three times in a 24 period, but I didn’t have nearly as much fun with the second commentary track. Maybe I’ll try again later.
While Game Chronicles typically doesn’t review movies, I feel somewhat compelled to score this film in some fashion, so why not use our game criteria slightly tweaked for a DVD.