Reviews: Press Start

Surprisingly funny, and did a great job spoofing many genres

Press Start is clearly ultra-low budget, with bad acting, barely anything in the way of special effects, and locations that look like places you could probably find in your own town. But what the movie does have going for it is a great sense of humor.

I really wasn't expecting much, to say the least. But there are so many great riffs on video game conventions that it's actually a rather entertaining movie, even with its total lack of plot.

The genre being spoofed changes pretty much from scene to scene. Early on, the main character is walking down the street and has conversations with random people that sound as bland and objective-oriented as the dialog you often see in video games. Later, after meeting a new friend and getting into a fight with some enemies, he expresses surprise at his teammate standing totally still when the enemy attacks. "It was his turn?" "What do you mean, his turn?" There's even a "helper" character who parodies characters such as Navi in Ocarina of Time - a fairy-like yellow ball that randomly says "Hey! Listen!" and dispenses totally useless "advice" that mostly involves reminding the heroes of their obvious current objective.

There's very little consistency. First turn-based RP Gs are mocked as the heroes take turns fighting monsters and point out who little sense it makes. Then suddenly, turn-based fights are banished. We later get a first-person shooter spoof that lasts for a very short time. Basically, it's the consistency you'd expect from a joke comic. Something exists only so long as it can be used for a joke, then it's gone, and the rules change yet again.

This "joke comic" mentality is also why the story is so uninteresting. There barely is a story, and what's there exists only to be used as the setup for the many jokes, spoofs and good-natured jabs at the video game industry scattered all throughout the movie. Which makes me wonder if Press Start might not have worked better as, say, an episodic You Tube series rather than a full-length movie. While there were many funny moments and clever ideas, I have to admit, I was bored throughout much of the movie. Splitting it up would probably have done it a lot of good.

That caveat aside, this is worth checking out if you're involved enough with video games to be able to get the jokes.

Camp, lame, and cheesy...and better for it.

There was nothing particularly original about Press Start, and nothing particularly remarkable about it. It was a predictable jumble of cliches and Shout Outs, scored by The Jimmy Hart Version of songs (the victory theme sounded like the illegitimate love-child of the Final Fantasy victory theme and the Overworld theme from The Legend Of Zelda Spirit Tracks...which had ironically not come out at that time). The acting was absolutely painful at times.

Here's the thing, though: this is a parody. A parody of video games, which tend to, more often than not, embrace cliches. Most the Shout Outs were written in well (I felt stupid for not realizing right away that the magic, green-topped fungus was a 1up mushroom), the obscure references were hilarious to those who caught them ("Don't tell me my dog has worms again...the ones with the bazookas."), and the bad acting just might have been done on purpose to poke fun at the fact that many video games contain horrible voice acting.

The movie was, to be frank, quite lame. But that's the was trying to be lame. Parodies poke fun of the source material, and video games are still pretty cheesy. I found myself grinning instead of groaning at the cliches because, while they were played completely straight, it's done to demonstrate just why Video Game Movies Suck. Decent movie, great parody, definitely worth watching.