"I don't care about the money. I'm pulling back the curtain. I want to meet the wizard."The Game
is a David Fincher
directed movie centered around Nicholas van Orton (Michael Douglas
), a bored, disillusioned businessman who spends his days in his office. So well-ordered he has driven out all romantic prospects, Nicholas soon receives a gift certificate from his brother Conrad (Sean Penn
), which involves participating in a potentially-dangerous game courtesy of a group called Consumer Recreation Services
. Not long after signing up things soon get bizarre and the line between the game and reality begins to blur.
Released in 1997, The Game
was well received and successful. It currently holds a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
, which is considered "certified fresh".
Now has a character page in desperate need of expansion.This film runs on various twists and turns. You will learn them if you read any further. You Have Been Warned.
This movie contains examples of:
- All Is Well That Ends Well
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: "I was drugged and left for dead in Mexico - and all I got was this stupid T-shirt".
- Book Safe: Nicholas keeps a revolver hidden in a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. Which CRS knew about and loaded with blanks.
- Chekhov's Army: A major theme in the film, revealed in the cafeteria scene in which every extra is revealed to have been a part of the game.
- Driven to Suicide: Possibly Nicholas's father. Later in the movie the trope is subverted with Nicholas himself. He tries to commit suicide, but instead harmlessly falls into a dome of breakaway glass and a safety mattress.
- Foreshadowing: After despairing to Nicholas, sobbing and crying, Conrad has a huge grin on his face when Nicholas leaves, which is a hint that the game is just that, a harmless game.
- Gaslighting: The modus operandi of CRS is to put Nicholas in ever more insane situations and drive him into a paranoid frenzy, until finally he tries to commit suicide - and instead is caught by a safety mattress, literally dropping in on his own surprise party.
- Gambit Roulette and/ or Xanatos Speed Chess: Consumer Recreation Services' business model is one or both of these.
- On the roulette side-The Protagonist's game involves hacking the TV channels when he's watching TV, marooning him in another country, and pretending to blow people away with high caliber weapons. They must hire exceptionally good actors / roleplayers / grifters.
- On the speedchess side-there is no way in hell that CRS could account for every single contingency, so it's quite possible they improvised for the ones they couldn't handle. The scheme could be pulled off with one or two really good improvisers, eg. Christine and the CRS rep, to steer him, and the rest of the cast as regular actors (not to demean real-life actors, who must have good improvisational skills). This could explain why Christine alone had to leave for the next gig at the end.
- Going Commando / Skirts and Ladders: When Trapped In An Elevator with waitress Christine, Nicholas asks her to crawl out the roof hatch. An embarrassed Christine reveals she's reluctant to do this because she's not wearing anything under her short skirt. Given what happens later, this is likely deliberate so as to mess with the protagonist's head.
- I'm Not a Doctor, but I Play One on TV: Douglas discovers the CRS representative is an actor when he sees him doing a drug commercial on TV. Which is Hilarious in Hindsight, since the actor who plays the actor playing the rep (James Rebhorn) is frequently a source of Hey, It's That Guy! in real life, most recently on White Collar.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: Douglas spends most of the movie trying to figure out if it's a scam. Averted as it isn't.
- Mind Screw: CRS drives the screw deeper into Douglas' head with each new baffling scenario.
- Not My Driver: Douglas steps into a cab that's subsequently driven into water.
- Pleasure Island: Until the very end.
- Red Herring: Of all the characters and extras in the story, Van Orton's attorney and Anson Baer were the only ones who knew nothing of the scheme (save the invitation they recieved for the finale). In the end, they thought Nicholas organised the entire thing himself. Unfortunately, that also means he did genuinely embarass himself and act like a madman in front of both earlier.
- Scary Surprise Party: Many twists and turns finally lead to a surprise party (and a hefty bill).
- Shockingly Expensive Bill:Just to give you the rough size of the bill... look at the movie's budget. It's $ 50 Million.
- Shout-Out: The page quote is one to The Wizard of Oz (when Dorothy finds out that the god-like ruler of Emerald City is a mere human behind a curtain).
- Soft Glass: It's breakable, but can still cut.
- Staged Shooting: The climax and its roof jump are filmed because it's a party.
- Stealth Pun: T
- he book To Kill a Mockingbird contains the device which makes it possible to kill an actual mockingbird; a gun.
- In the finale, Nicholas literally drops in on his own surprise party, crashing through a dome of breakaway glass and landing on a safety mattress.
- The Ending Changes Everything: The ending reveals the entire thing was a fake game.
- The Picture Came With The Frame: Suspecting that Christine is a CRS plant, Nicholas opens the picture frames on the walls of her apartment, and finds the pictures are cut from magazines.
- The Unreveal: It's never revealed how much the game cost. We just see Nick and Conrad stunned over the cost at the very end, with Nick offering to split the bill.
- X Meets Y: According to The Other Wiki, one of the writer described Michael Douglas' character as "fashionable, good-looking Scrooge, lured into a Mission: Impossible situation with a steroid shot in the thigh from The Sting ".