Movie Game by Michael Ebner

I consider myself a frequent movie watcher. I’ve seen more than some people my age, but I’m certainly not a movie buff with the authority to quote French noir or every American classic. & there are times when I’m not sure if the main character Joe is qualified either. He actually doesn’t even get Tyler Durden’s name right at one point. Whether this was an editing typo, or intentional (it wasn’t) I’m not sure.

Joe (claims he’s) is a movie buff. He stalks people out of theaters & reprimands them if they talk during the film. After he has sex with a girl, he watches films off her laptop for hours in her bathroom. & most importantly, he plays “the movie game” with his friends every week at a local joint. It’s a slight rift from the game where you name an actor or actress & must name another actor/actress with the first letter of the last letter of the previously mentioned name. In this version, you must name a film, the next says a person who plays a role in that film, then the name of a film that person has starred in, & so on & so on.

Joe’s got a lot of problems, a few he’s not even aware of. He’s got an absentee father, a mother who ran off, a sister who won’t leave him to pursue her Parisian dreams because she’s so worried about him, a side-chick who has a boyfriend, & a dream girl who toys with him by forcing him to read an incredibly intellectual & long book before they can sleep together.

The book has been compared to a Coen brothers film, but it reminded me more of Weird Science meets The Graduate meets the Marathe subplot from Infinite Jest.

It’s quirky, entirely unrealistic, & a little comical. Overall, I don’t think it’s sure what kind of book it wants to be, or what it wants to be about. I really didn’t care for any of the characters, so I didn’t care what happened to them. There are a few amusing bits, but some of the stuff that was supposed to be funny or the clear punch at the end of a chapter were just lackluster.

I sort of feel like I wasted some time reading this. Maybe with better editing & a clearer direction, this could’ve been a great story. The set up is great. A kid who loves movies has some agents trailing him the entire time because they think he could give them some insider knowledge on his father’s whereabouts. But the delivery just wasn’t there. Who knows, it might make a better script? Ebner must love movies, & Joe’s dislike of books may not be the best character trait for this particular medium to tell this story.


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