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YMMV / Mazes and Monsters

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  • Accidental Aesop:
    • The storyline makes far more sense if you take the film to be one about the importance of stable families rather than the anti-D&D message which was intended. Daniel's only real home problems are the fact that his parents disapprove of his chosen career path, and in most ways he's the most normal of the group (rather questionable dress sense aside). Kate comes from a family torn apart by a divorce, which has led to her having trouble sustaining her own relationships. Jay Jay's mother seems to care more about her career than her son and frequently ignores what he wants, leading to him trying to get attention by wearing silly hats and pulling stunts like screwing up the group's campaign so they'll have to participate in his LARP. Finally, Robbie has an almost completely dysfunctional family, which he tries to escape by engrossing himself in Mazes & Monsters to the extent that he starts to believe he really is Pardieu (and given that he was thrown out of his last college because of his Mazes & Monsters obsession, odds are he experienced a similar though less severe problem there).
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    • In his review commentary Spoony notes that it's not the game that's the problem, it's Robbie's obsession with it, raising the point that had the movie framed itself around Robbie spending all his time with it and the consequences of that, it would have been a valid lesson about obsession and spending too much time on one thing at the expense of your whole life, which would have been ahead of its time with regards to issues like game addiction/compulsion and the need for Anti Poopsocking.
    • Another Aesop is, "If you are suffering from mental instability or you see a friend suffering from it, encourage them to seek psychological help." Robbie has much-much deeper issues than the fact he's a gamer.
    • The plot could even be taken as a shot against the very anti-roleplaying movement it's supposed to be cashing in on. All of the lines explicitly against it come from the police detective who chooses to blow off all the actual clues to search the tunnels where the LARP was played and be generally useless. Meanwhile the players manage to hunt him down in New York city themselves.
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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: An out-of-universe one. Was the movie a Stealth Parody by people who didn't take the Moral Guardians seriously? The game was clearly researched and reflects many RL facts about college gaming life—which would almost certainly show the game was harmless.
  • Bile Fascination: The film maintains a strong cult status because of how many gamers love to bash it.
  • Critical Research Failure: While the game in the movie is called Mazes and Monsters, and could theoretically have different rules, it still is just meant to be the Fictional Counterpart of Dungeons & Dragons so it makes several strange deviations from that game's ruleset at the time.
    • Priests do not have the power to fly in Dungeons & Dragons. Clerics can in 3rd edition, but this movie and book existed well before that.
    • When Jay Jay makes his character jump into a pit to get him killed off, there's no roll to see if he made it out - the character instantly dies.
    • Instead of hauling Jay Jay's character out of the pit of gem-encrusted spikes, prying the gems off, and going off to someone to resurrect him, the rest of the group leaves Jay Jay's guy in there, declare their campaign over with, and berate Jay Jay for doing something so stupid.
      • They also complain that he will have to start all over at Level 1 and it will take forever for him to catch up... as if they couldn't just hand him a Level 9 character sheet, have him start a new character with the same amount of experience, and then add him to the game.
      • This is a mistake made repeatedly in the film, as the group is actively trying to recruit a "Level 9" player - when this makes no sense because that would mean their new player would have to coincidentally have played a different campaign without them and hopefully also have a character sheet at that exact level just to play with them. As your character's stats and level only exists on paper, there's also no way to enforce this - theoretically a guy with a new character sheet could show up. So basically, this is an insane requirement for a roleplaying group when all they really need to get is someone who has played enough to be comfortable with the rules and has good time management skills.
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    • Upon meeting Robbie, Kate makes small talk by saying "how great it is to be building your own scenarios at Level 9". In virtually all Role-Playing Games, there is no level requirement to making your own game. Some people don't even play D&D as characters, but solely as Dungeon Masters.
    • When Robbie is wandering the city thinking he's his character, he's carrying a knife as a weapon...even though his character is a cleric, and clerics only use blunt weapons.
  • Faux Symbolism: A shot of Robbie standing next to a mirror is clearly framed to try and show two sides of him...but just comes off as extremely clumsy.
  • Fridge Logic:
    • When Kate and Robbie break up after Robbie, thinking he is Pardieu, states he can no longer have intimate contact with her (because he's a priest, of course), Kate exclaims that it's "Just like last time!" As this review posits, does this mean Kate has a history of dating guys that suddenly turn into priests that must cease having sex with her?
    • JJ's mom has a habit of constantly redecorating his room without telling him. This amount of remodeling would be insanely expensive if it happens as often as he implies - she replaces all of the furniture, flooring, wallpaper, and paint every single time. Given that he hates it, the character quirk is completely nonsensical.
    • Given how deep Robbie's delusion is, that he mistakes a subway train for a dragon, how did he get to New York? While the setting of the film isn't clear, Robbie at least lives outside the boundaries of Manhattan. How did he get there without using some sort of modern transportation?
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Daniel's parents keep trying to force him into a computer science degree at MIT, which he eventually goes for at the end of the film, because they believe he'll be able to make more money this way than by making games. Thanks to the flood of comp-sci degrees at the time and the subsequent trend to outsourcing software development overseas, this degree has actually become relatively worthless for a period of time...except in the gaming industry.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Mazes and Monsters is a far-out game."
  • Narm: Not shockingly, most of it from Tom Hanks.
    • "I can't! I'm all out of spell points!"
    • The entire scene where he breaks down on the phone while talking to Kate after stabbing someone.
      • To quote Spoony: "WARNING: the following clip will completely ruin your ability to enjoy any Tom Hanks movie you'll ever see again."
    • "Jay Jay, what am I doing?!"
    • :Beware the sacrilege!"
  • Misaimed Fandom: The only people who watch the movie today are likely to be gamers.
  • Shocking Swerve: Given the subject matter, most viewers would probably expect one of the group to die or commit suicide, so when Jay Jay starts fuming over how under-appreciated he is and thinks about killing himself in a memorable fashion, you think you know how it's going to go down. But then Robbie spontaneously cracks during the cave LARP, which seems to come completely out of nowhere.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Despite the anti-gaming slant, most gamers have watched this film and howled with laughter at it. Given the movie portrays most of the gamers are perfectly normal, many people believe it's a Stealth Parody.
  • Special Effects Failure: The "Gorvil" Robbie keeps hallucinating is a spectacularly bad rubber suit.
  • Tear Jerker: As ridiculous as this movie is one can't help feel bad for Robbie during his sudden relapse to sanity. Especially after he realized he may or may not have really killed someone.
  • Undermined by Reality: The story becomes more depressing once you read more into James Dallas Egbert III, the source of the headlines the story was ripped from. Who suffered from depression thanks to pressure from his parents and struggling with his homosexuality, sadly eventually committing suicide for real a year after the incident, with Dungeons and Dragons merely being a scapegoat.
  • What an Idiot!: Kate completely blows off Robbie's sudden mental shift into Pardieu, ignoring blatant references to his character and instead assuming that his talks of being celibate are an attempt to break up with her.
    • Robbie's friends also don't notice when Robbie dresses as Pardieu while acting like Pardieu.


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