Film: Midnight Madness

Midnight Madness is a 1980 film from Walt Disney Pictures, featuring an all-night scavenger-hunt-type game put on by a nerdy mastermind named Leon. In this game, five teams of various stereotypical groups race around the Los Angeles area searching for hidden clues that will ultimately lead them to the final destination and victory. Originally released without the Disney brand and with a dismal box-office run in theaters, the film became a Cult Classic after it hit the pay-cable-channel circuit. It is most notable for: starring David Naughton, who at the time was best known for dancing around in Dr Pepper commercials; being Michael J. Fox's first big-screen role; and having a brief appearance by a pre-Pee Wee Paul Reubens.

These tropes are cleverly hidden (and not-so-cleverly hidden) in the film:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Blaylak takes a swim in one of the brewery's beer vats.
  • Big Eater: Harold, especially at the end of the film.
  • The Big Race
  • Buccaneer Broadcaster: The AM frequency for LAX airport information is at one point taken over by Leon to provide the next clue.
  • Color-Coded Characters: The groups put on shirts with matching colors, and by some Contrived Coincidence, the vehicles' colors even matched.
  • Dirty Kid: A young boy uses a coin-operated telescope to get a look at "Venus' two moons" (in a bedroom window).
  • Dumb Muscle: The green team.
  • Elevator Snare: Near the end, the yellow team is stuck in an elevator.
  • Epic Race: One that takes all night to finish.
  • 555: Harold's phone number starts with this, given to a police officer by one of his teammates.
  • Five-Man Band: The yellow team has the best example.
  • Forgotten Birthday: It's Scott's birthday tonight... and Adam's too caught up in the game to remember.
  • Game Master: Leon.
  • Jerkass: Harold and the rest of the blue team.
  • Lovable Nerd: Leon. His neighbors bang on his door to complain about the noise; next thing they know, they're helping him run the game.
  • MacGyvering: How Marvin on the yellow team manages to get an elevator running again.
  • Male Gaze: At one point, this is needed to get the next clue to the next destination. Look between the two giant melons!
  • Nerd Glasses: Leon and the white team.
  • Product Placement: Some brands are crucial to the game, so this trope definitely comes into play. The game eventually leads to the Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery, Bob's... sorry, Johnny's Big Boy and the Bonaventure Hotel. An actual arcade game (Exidy's Star Fire) provides a clue as well.
  • Red Herring: At the miniature golf course, Harold decides to skip the entire course and head straight for the 18th hole. When he sinks the ball, a flag pops up with a note on it, saying he shouldn't have cheated... and he lost his ball.
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Secretly Wealthy: Arguably Leon. He dresses like a bohemian and stays in a half-decent apartment, yet he manages to curry the favor of a piano store, a chain restaurant, a pinball arcade, a miniature golf course, a major brand brewery, a major airport and a posh hotel to go along with his all-nighter game. Which means he'd have to shell out some serious dough to keep these places operational in the middle of the night, not to mention hire a few personnel and buy some wonderful prizes for the winners.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: The clues that are given vary from playing a commercial jingle on a toy piano, to rearranging letters found on a necklace, to forming a business name from a bunch of objects, to beating a high score on a video game.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Disco-ish opening theme? Girls on roller skates? Antiquated video games at a place called Pinball City? Must be 1980!
  • Writing Around Trademarks: It's not Bob's Big Boy, it's Johnny's Big Boy!
    • This could've been averted, as the clue given could have been "Mr. Barker's Obese Male Child". But the management behind Bob's Big Boy must've gotten a bit antsy...