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Film / Joysticks

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A video arcade is about to be shut down by an unscrupulous businessman who claims that it's a festering den of iniquity. However, he's right; it actually is a festering den of iniquity, as it seems to attract biker gangs, thugs, women who strip frequently, and other n'er-do-wells, along with the usual assortment of nerds.

In an attempt to stop the arcade from being shut down, our heroes challenge the businessman to a video game duel, ultimately leading to a showdown between a gang member (hired by the businessman) and one of the heroes, a morbidly obese nerd.

At least, that's the core plot of this crude 1983 comedy. Most of the film is actually about the antics of the characters, as they play pranks on each other, have lots of sex, and along the way, video games are mentioned a lot. Actual games from the early 80s are used, in a rather impressive aversion of the Pac Man Fever trope. Gamer culture takes a backseat to the characters' antics, but still features prominently in the film.


This film contains examples of:

  • All Women Are Doms, All Men Are Subs: The morbidly obese man is seen tied up by a woman during the moment when he's supposed to be playing Super Pac-Man in a tournament.
  • Black Comedy Rape: When breaking into a house, McDorfus tells nerdy Eugene that this is his chance to lose his virginity... with a sleeping woman lying in bed. The scene is played for comedy.
  • Blackmail: The main characters try to get Rutter to back down with (out of context) pictures of him in the arcade with a pair of half dressed teenagers. However he simply strong-arms them into handing them over ...until later on, when it turns out they kept the photos after all and show them at the debate.
  • Butt-Monkey: Eugene, a nerd who is constantly the butt of jokes, pranks and teasing.
  • Duels Decide Everything: The fate of the arcade hinges on a video game challenge between Jeff and King Videot and whoever gets a higher score.
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  • Family Business: The arcade is managed by Jeff and his grandfather. It was a warehouse before that.
  • Gass Hole: McDorfus rips loud, smelly farts on several occasions.
  • Hollywood Nerd: The main character, Eugene Groebe.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipe: Several scene transitions are accompanied by a giant Pac Man passing across the screen from left to right (accompanied by his trademark wakka wakka wakka... noises).
  • Moral Guardians: Joseph Rutter wants the arcade to close down. Along the way, he describes it as a den full of prostitution and general debauchery. Even though he goes there once in a while to talk to the owner or other people.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Pretty much every female character is...quite attractive.
  • Pac Man Fever: Totally averted. All the games are real and portrayed as they actually existed at the time. Super Pac-Man, a not particularly well-known game in the Pac-Man series, is actually played at a tournament (which may confuse modern audiences not familiar with this particular variation) before its real-life release in arcades, and Satans Hollow was also played. Both games were developed in the US by Midway (Pac-Man itself was made in Japan by Namco, but Midway developed a few sequels of their own), who sponsored the movie.
  • The Quincy Punk: King Videot and his punk/goth cronies.
  • Toilet Humour: Quite a lot.
  • Training Montage: Jeff gets one to prep for the final duel against King Videot to decide the arcade's fate.
  • Valley Girl: Joseph Rutter's daughter Patsy exhibits several mannerisms and ideals of this archtype.


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