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The Game
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Product Description

It's not quite as clever as it tries to be, but The Game does a tremendous job of presenting the story of a rigid control freak trapped in circumstances that are increasingly beyond his control. Michael Douglas plays a rich, divorced, and dreadful investment banker whose 48th birthday reminds him of his father's suicide at the same age. He's locked in the cage of his own misery until his rebellious younger brother (Sean Penn) presents him with a birthday invitation to play "The Game" (described as "an experiential Book of the Month Club")--a mysterious offering from a company called Consumer Recreation Services. Before he knows the game has even begun, Douglas is caught up in a series of unexplained events designed to strip him of his tenuous security and cast him into a maelstrom of chaos. How do you play a game that hasn't any rules? That's what Douglas has to figure out, and he can't always rely on his intelligence to form logic out of what's happening to him. Seemingly cast as the fall guy in a conspiracy thriller, he encounters a waitress (Deborah Unger) who may or may not be trustworthy, and nothing can be taken at face value in a world turned upside down. Douglas is great at conveying the sheer panic of his character's dilemma, and despite some lapses in credibility and an anticlimactic ending, The Game remains a thinking person's thriller that grabs and holds your attention. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • Life is the Ultimate Game


    Many of you, if not most, will think you do not find this review "helpful" - but, if you heed my advice, you will.

    Before you watch this movie read "Busting Loose From the Money Game" by Robert Scheinfeld. If you do that you will watch this movie with a whole new set of eyes. You'll recognize yourself in Van Orton, playing the "Game", acquiring valuable possessions you CAN take with you (such as compassion and understanding), while caught on a seemingly out-of-control ride that, in the end, you are reminded that you asked for.

    A thriller I will watch again and again, over the years... especially when my own game appears overwhelming....more info
  • We have watched it numerous times
    My wife and I have watched this amazing movie over a dozen times over the years -- on first watch it is very good, very entertaining -- on subsequent viewings it actually continues to get better. Is simply an amazing, entertaining and thought provoking (rare for an outstanding movie production) movie.

    One of our top 5 movies of all time -- give it a shot, and be sure to watch it more than once.

    Roger & Trish...more info
  • What a thriller
    Anything with Michael Douglas is great, but this is a real thriller and who-dun-it! It will keep you guessing until the end. A "best buy" as far as I'm concerned....more info
  • oh boy
    Watching this movie gave me a migraine. Trick the man for his birthday, this movie is behind retarded....more info
  • GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
    THE GAME is definitely a director's movie. David Fincher (Seven, Panic Room, Fight Club) propels us into the nightmarish world of Michael Douglas' Scroogish investment banker. Nicholas is cold; lonely; bearing a lot of anguish over the suicide of his father, the seeming failure of his brother (Sean Penn in a rather small role, almost overacting, but tolerable). What in this movie is real and what is a game? The use of news commentator Daniel Schorr to set the rules for Douglas is very good, and unique. Deborah Kara Unger fills the role of Christine nicely, although sometimes she seems in a vague fog. Peter Donat as Douglas' lawyer is sturdy; James Rebhorn as the smarmy employee of CRS is also good.
    The movie rests on Douglas' shoulders and thought it may be a combination of his other roles, he still does a commendable job in carrying the movie. It is bizarre, nightmarish, ominous and a director's triumph. Some of the things that go on toward the end of the movie and stretch the credibility factor, but I can't divulge those without spoiling the ending.
    A good film, inventive and well done....more info
  • Wow, I have never met anyone who actually liked this movie.
    This movie is a flop, plain and simple. The acting is subpar, camerawork is shoddy, and the storyline is incomprehensible. Is there a movie that is more farfetched (besides the Da Vinci Code)? The ending is unbelievable, as in no one would believe that someone would actually go through all the trouble to play a prank on somebody like they did to Michael Douglas. It's hard to believe that famous actors like Douglas and Sean Penn actually signed on to this drivel. They must have liked the "twist ending," that only was a twist because it made no sense. Seriously people, how could you enjoyed this movie?! It says it is a "thinking-man's thriller." What? The only thoughts I had was "Whuhh?"...more info
  • This is Only My Opinion
    Poor Nicholas misses the breakaway glass and goes SPLAT!! Just like daddy.

    Conrad finally realizes what a sick, sadistic fool he is, and plummets himself down after. SPLAT!!

    The ridiculous CRS crew throw their hands in the air in unison and exclaim, "This wasn't OUR fault, we were just doing our jobs!!"

    The movie set is suddenly invaded by Storm-Troopers, who proceed to open fire with their blasters, killing anyone who was paid to take part in this asinine game, including David Fincher.

    Now THAT would have been a good ending. ...more info
  • Making a BIG man small
    +++++

    "What do you get for the man who has everything?"

    This is the question Conrad Van Orton (Sean Penn) asks himself. Conrad is the wayward brother of control-freak Nicholas (Michael Douglas), a wealthy and aloof San Francisco investment banker whose 48th birthday is coming up.

    Conrad finally decides on a unique birthday present: a gift certificate to "Consumer Recreation Services" (or "CRS"). The service provided by CRS is a game.

    A friend of Nicks who has already "played" the game gives him a hint of what it's about by quoting a passage from the Bible:

    "Whereas once I was blind, now I can see."

    Once Nick officially signs up for the game a series of bad and bizarre things begin happening to him, things beyond his control and things designed to make him lose his high status.

    There is actually a double climatic ending that, in my case, I found emotionally satisfying.

    Michael Douglas does a good job of portraying the aloof investment banker whose life has suddenly spun out of control. Sean Penn who only appears in a few scenes makes the best of his limited screen time.

    The background music enhanced each scene. This movie was also well photographed.

    There are two major problems I found with this movie:

    First, it is far-fetched. This is supposed to be a game where everything is controlled. However, some of the things that happen to Nick are totally uncontrollable.

    Second, the movie is much to long. Because of its long length, it became tedious for me to watch. In my opinion, this movie could have been a half hour shorter and still presented an effective story.

    Finally, the DVD itself is perfect in picture and sound quality. It has the movie in wide screen on one side and full screen on the other. There are minimal extras.

    In conclusion, despite its problems, this is still an interesting and unique movie!!

    *** 1/2

    (1997; 2 hr, 10 min; wide screen/full screen; 19 scenes; rated `R')

    +++++
    ...more info
  • Surprisingly Good
    When I read about this movie, it was worded so vaguely that i thought the movie must be really bad. It was recommended to me and after watching it, i realized why the description seemed so empty. It's hard to put into words how this movie operates, but it makes perfect sense as each scene happens. Michael Douglas is really good at playing rich business man types and here that is equally annoying as it is effective. He does it great, i just wish he wasn't so limited in the types of roles he plays. I've never liked Sean Penn, he over-acts in every movie he's in and he's kind of annoying in this movie. The good thing is he has a pretty small role so there's not too much of him to deal with. Overall, a really well done movie, great music too. Really eerie and complimentary to the unpredictable speed of the action. Definitely see it....more info
  • "Far-fetched" is an understatement
    "The Game" starts out interestingly enough: Michael Douglas plays a Nicholas Van Orton, wealthy San Francisco investment banker who also happens to be a selfish control freak. His burnout brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), buys Nicholas a part in "the game," which is a mysterious personalized "experience" developed by a company called Consumer Recreation Services. Nicholas suddenly finds himself immersed in a series of unexplainable events that become increasingly dangerous and manage to shatter the secure, controlled environment that he has built for himself.

    This film does an excellent job of illustrating what happens when a person's world literally comes crashing down around them. Douglas does an amazing job of showing how "the game" takes over his character's entire life and transforms a once powerful, conniving man into someone who is completely overwhelmed with sheer terror. Unfortunately, the movie drags a lot (especially in the beginning) and the ending leaves a lot to be desired. The whole concept of "the game" is so ridiculously absurd...I think the film could have gone in several different directions, and I was ultimately disappointed with the way things turned out.

    Overall, "The Game" boasts excellent performances by Douglas and the rest of supporting cast. There are some great suspenseful moments in the film, but the whole concept of the story is too ridiculous (even for a movie) and the ending is so anticlimactic that I can't really claim to have enjoyed it all that much....more info
  • Fincher at his best
    It's hard to compete with movies like Seven and Fight Club, but this movie is amazing all around. It's everything Fincher is good at: Dark humor, weird plot, and an ending that will blow your mind. This movie is worth every dime. Michael Douglas is fantastic as usual and Sean Penn (though he plays a limited role in the movie) does a wonderful job as well. Check out Fincher's other movies while you're at it....more info
  • Oh wow
    This movie is such a trip. My dad, who figured out the answer to Flightplan w/out even seeing the movie, did not predict the ending of this flick. You can't tell people much about it with out giving a lot away....more info
  • The Game (1997)
    Director: David Fincher
    Cast: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Charles Martinet.
    Running Time: 128 minutes
    Rated R for language, and for some violence and sexuality.

    Michael Douglas is on reliably good form as Nicholas Van Orton, a millionaire investment banker who lives in stately, joyless, isolated splendour in the mansion he inherited from his millionaire father. His father, Nicholas Van Orton Sr., died at 48 by hurling himself off the mansion's roof. Now having reached 48 himself, Nick, the man who has everything, is given an intriguing birthday gift by his rebellious younger brother Conrad (Sean Penn, sadly under-utilized here): an invitation to participate in a 'game' staged by the mysterious Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Their games involve the individual participant in a seemingly real-life scenario which blurs the edges between fact and fantasy, and which is deliberately tailored to suit each participant's personality. Reluctantly Nick signs up, as much out of boredom as anything else. It seems that for CRS, Nick's highly charged but emotionally austere and control-freakish personality calls for a high octane adventure in which he risks losing all control of events, and will thus be forced to depend on others for his physical, if not his psychological, salvation. And so the game begins. Nick soon comes to doubt that he is playing any kind of game. Has he instead become the latest victim of a monumentally sophisticated scam? Or is it all a bad dream? Throughout this is all very gripping, and being a David Fincher ("Seven") film it has a dark atmospheric gloss which keeps you unpleasantly hooked; however, as the plot unfolds like a Chinese puzzle, the film gradually reveals itself to be pure surface. Despite Douglas essaying yet another hard-nosed anti-heroic establishment outsider with characteristic intensity, there is only an intermittent sense that Nick is in psychological rather than physical danger, even though this, underlined by the constant home-movie flashbacks to Van Orton Senior's demise, seems to be what's actually at stake. The lack of psychological menace in the film hinges on the fact that no other character in the film is properly developed, so no one really seems to carry any real threat. Perhaps the real threat to Nick is within himself, his own demons, which somehow the game is intended to help him exorcize. But it's questionable that this is what we actually see portrayed.

    The film is boistered by superb performances, including Douglas' best since "Wall Street". Deborah Kara Unger impresses as Christine, the waitress (or is she a waitress?), while Sean Penn is quite good at playing the somewhat spoiled and mouthy little brother. The script has wickedly funny dialogue and gives the film a slight "black comedy" feel. As usual in a Fincher film, the cinematography is dark and forebodding and creates a noir atmosphere of sorts. Howard Shore's music is excellent: Instead of attacking us with bombastic chords, a sound as simple as a piano tinkling is used to make our hearts race. The plotting is ingenious and one plot twist after another is instigated until the film creates a spider-web of fear and paranoia that has us mind-boggled. The films themes of redemption and paranoia are followed through right to the end in an ending that some think is supremely contrived. Despite its pretentious packaging, the constant hints that we are watching a dark psychological thriller, a morality tale, 'The Game' turns out to be merely a well-executed action adventure that plays on the audience's paranoid fantasies, and it is to this end that Nicholas Van Orton seems ultimately to have been created by the film-makers....more info
  • Great movie
    This is a great film that will keep you on the edge of your seat almost through out the whole movie.I don't want to go in to the movie because it will give it away.It a steal for 10.00 dollars.I did not give it 5 stars because the very end i though was a little weak.Also i can't stand Sean Penn....more info
  • One of my Top 10!!!
    I love this movie! Fascinating, thought provoking, twisting, and unique. I really enjoy watching it again just to think about the whole concept and if I missed anything....more info
  • Tight, Engaging, Entertaining Film (With A Couple of Caveats)
    The Game is an enjoyable movie.

    Enjoyable isn't the same thing as "realistic."

    And it's not the same thing as "brilliant."

    But that doesn't take anything away from the fact that enjoyable movies are, well, enjoyable, and that's a good thing.

    The Game follows a humorless business man, caught in the same kind of rut that had led his father before him to suicide, as he is ensnared in "The Game"--an intense, real-life psychological thriller that threatens to become "too real" at any moment. In the same way that Total Recall always kept alive the question of "what's really going on?", The Game keeps twisting and turning, refusing to show its cards until the very last scene. It's fun to watch, so long as you don't ask yourself too many questions, because the plot is quite unrealistic if you're the sort to care about that kind of thing.

    The twisting and turning, the suspense, all of it is done well technically, but sometimes the story feels a little muted--a little "going through the motions." The flashback sequences, meant to feel arty and unsettling, don't really contribute much and feel slightly pretentious. It's as though this movie was overly conscious of what it was trying to be, and what it was trying to do, and so it came out feeling manufactured and artificial. It is done well, but not brilliantly so.

    So, The Game isn't realistic, and it's not brilliant, but if you have a few hours to spend, it will entertain you. "Entertaining"'s nothing to sneeze at--most movies don't get that far. A solid 3 3/4 stars, rounded up here to 4....more info
  • an intriguing film, and definitely a nail-biter despite the implausibility
    Directed by David Fincher, 1997's "The Game" is a very cleverly constructed and engaging thriller, although the implausibility of the whole 'game' leaves one with such a "give me a break" taste in their mouth that it simply can't be hailed as a masterpiece.

    Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is an incredibly wealthy investment banker who seems to be incredibly miserable, partly because of the daily grind of his work, and also because he's divorced and basically lives alone. His brother Conrad (Sean Penn) is seemingly aware of this, and in attempt to 'spice things up' for Nick, tells him about a suspicious company he should call named CRS, i.e. Consumer Recreation Services. Conrad tells his brother he's called them before and that they gave him a life changing experience in his own right. Nick ultimately gives in to temptation, not really knowing what he's getting into, and before he knows it, the 'game' begins.

    On the positive side, the mostly dark cinematography of the movie is extremely fitting and effective, and with the construction of the script being as engagingly clever as it is, we don't get the first real inkling as to just how impossibly far-fetched it all is until about ? of the way into this 2+ hour film. And the movie's 'big climax' IS suspenseful and surprising, albeit ultimately outrageous, and the final scene amusingly provides one last macabre twist.

    The film is also a tour-de-force for Michael Douglas, who appears in every single scene. It really is intriguing to watch a painstakingly maintained control freak have the proverbial rugs pulled out from under him at every turn, and Douglas is perfect for the role--intense, yet natural, and capturing the various emotions of his character masterfully. Deborah Kara Unger's performance is also memorable--Douglas and she have an excellent on-screen chemistry. Sean Penn, on the other hand, strikes me as being considerably miscast, but he doesn't have that much screen time anyway.

    In the end, this is a better-than-average thriller. It's highly entertaining despite its extreme implausibility and the rather underwhelming & laughable ending....more info
  • Michael Douglas in a confusing mind roller coaster !
    David Fincher, the director behind Se7en and Fight Club, makes an extravagant suspenseful thriller with The Game. The noir-ish theme from Se7en remains, but this isn't a story about a crime being uncovered; only The Game is about a crime in the making (or is it?)
    Michael Douglas plays a successful rich businessman (an echo image of Gordon Gekko from Wall Street) who's haunted by his father's suicide. His life is typical; no adventures, just the same old, same old everyday. Things change when he recieves an unusual gift from his younger brother, played charmfully by Sean Penn. Nothing else should be said after this for I do not wish to ruin the plot if you haven't already seen it. But just to give you a glimpse, Michael Douglas' life turns very bumpy, dark, mysterious; in other words, it turns completely upside down in one of the worst nightmarish mind-boggling roller coaster trips any rich successful businessman stuck in a routine and haunted by his past could ever have!

    Very Recommended!

    A-...more info

  • A story of personal transformation
    Reading some of the reviews here what seems missing is what I believe is the essential theme of this work --- personal transformation. Michael Douglas' character is trapped, or to be more precise stuck. He is stuck at a level of personal development (mean spirited, suspicious, cynical, isolated and alone --- he is an Investment Banker) in which he is intensely dissatisfied with himself and all around him. Though he does not realize it, he must move beyond his current "self" if he is to realize his full (though currently latent) potential as a human being. His brother - Sean Penn - realizes this and hence gives him a "game" for his birthday - since Penn the "black sheep" of the family had had a game given to him by some unnamed character and it had helped "awaken" him to a new self.

    The game is the necessary transformative vehicle for Douglas' character which forces a reassessment of himself and his outlook on life --- but only through a complete breakdown and displacement of his current self and his connection with the world that he had made --- and had in turn now trapped him.

    It is through the ensuing trauma and the culminating attempted suicide that allows him to emerge "reborn" and with a new outlook and new "self". Thus the climactic and happy ending with the well wishers at his birthday party in spite of the fact that a moment ago he had just "murdered" his brother and leapt to his "death".

    What this movie portrays is the classical mythological journey of trial and trauma where the old self is destroyed and a new self emerges like a beautiful butterfly from an ugly caterpillar....more info
  • TIME TO PLAY THE GAME!
    No, this isn't an autobiography on WWE star Triple H.

    This is "The Game" starring Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton, an investment banker who apparently has forgotten, or never learned, how to be a kind human being. Mr. Van Orton is short, rude, and a pompous ass to every person he seems to come in contact with. His wealth and power have gone to his head in a big way.

    Then as a birthday gift, Nicholas' brother Conrad (played by Sean Penn) gives him a present: a gift certificate to a company known as "CRS". Nicholas has no clue what he is in store for. When he eventually goes to CRS to fill out the forms and take the tests needed to get started, he is informed by cel phone during an important meeting that he has been rejected. But this is just a ruse, as from this point on, he is thrown into "The Game".

    Having to experience humility for probably the first time in his life, Nicholas finds himself in one catastrophe after another, and finds himself completely and totally out of his element as the events unfold in wicked fashion. In the end, he gets exactly what he deserves.

    I think we've all run into the Nicholas Van Ortons in the world at some point or another, and there's something satisfying about watching someone who believes to be above everybody and everything get knocked down to Earth. I wouldn't say this is a terrific film, but one that keeps you interested until the end....more info
  • Mesmerizing, intriguing and challenging movie!
    When a successful in the middle of his brilliant and winning profession loses his focus, his brother Sean Penn decides by himself to prepare an inoffensive game, the perfect gate for his tribulations and wishes of evasion, adventure and mystery.

    You may certain rules of a game but that does not mean, you necessarily must have all the answers and maintain the emotional equilibrium.

    A delirious and fascinating picture that - at least to my mind - deserved to David Fincher (Seven and The fight club)an emblematic status among the most creative and original filmmakers of his generation, considering all these three films have acquired cult status.

    A superb cast, a solid script and kinetic cinematography make of this work one of my twenty Top American movies along the Nineties.


    ...more info
  • Wow!
    I knew this movie had to be great before I even watched it because it is made by an excellent director and it is played by at least two wonderful actors.Michael Douglas and Sean Penn are brothers (lol) and Douglas plays the role of an unhappy businessman, anyways the movie starts with Douglas's birthday and it's then when he receives a mysterious present from his brother - so what he gets is a enrollement in CRS (Consumer Recreation Services) - a company which creates real life games for each individual.But as the game starts Douglas has every reason to get concerned about his wealth and his life as well.
    A nail-bitting movie.

    Please watch it or own it so you can play "The Game" to your guests. It's a great movie....more info