The Bad, The Ugly, The Awful, vol. 6: The movie horrific.....
'Reindeer Games' starring Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Senise
It sounds like a claymation stop-motion Rankin-Bass Christmas special that's shown every holiday season in between 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' and 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town'.
It's a series of activities that the other reindeer in Santa's camp used to play, but they were so cruel that they wouldn't even let poor Rudolph participate.
It's not a proper title for a supposed action flick starring big name actors that came out in February and was expected to decent business.
Miramax. The company that spearheaded the '90s indie revolution, producing high quality works of cinematic art. Intelligent, groundbreaking, fearless works of film that influenced scores of modern writers, directors, and actors. Reservoir Dogs, The Crying Game, Clerks, The Crow, Pulp Fiction, The Crossing Guard, Trainspotting, Flirting with Disaster, Swingers, Chasing Amy, The English Patient, Good Will Hunting, Jackie Brown, Rounders, Shakespeare in Love, etc.
As a quick aside, Ben Affleck was only 3 years removed from winning an Oscar with Matt Damon for Best Original Screenplay for 'Good Will Hunting' and two years from co-starring in the "Best Picture" nominated 'Shakespeare in Love.'
Why, Ben? Why do a movie called 'Reindeer Games'? It's the same phenomenon that causes Cuba Gooding to star in 'Boat Trip' Charlize Theron in 'Aeon Flux', and Adrian Brody in 'Splice.'
Personally, I thought for the longest time that the title of the film came from the last name of Ben Affleck's character. Like, John Reindeer or something. It's not that far-fetched. Movies are always creating contrived titles out of preposterous character surnames. See: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) 'The Bourne Identity (Ultimatum/Supremacy)', Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) in 'Salt', and Mathew Knight (Tom Cruise) in 'Knight and Day.' Or see the too-good-to-be-true real-life example of Chris Moneymaker, the accountant turned successful professional poker player.
I thought that my 'John Reindeer' theory held some weight based on the opening scenes of the movie which showed a bunch of potentially dead men dressed in full Santa Claus drag, lying prone in a snowy environment as Affleck's voiceover says, "To tell ya the truth, I was never much for holidays." A man named Reindeer who hates the holidays. Perfect.
Unfortunately, I was completely wrong. Affleck's character is named Rudy Duncan, a convicted car thief who's held in a jail in Iron Mountain, Michigan.
(Since I rambled for, like, 1,000 words on the title of this flick, I should probably mention where it ACTUALLY comes from. It's lifted from a line of dialogue from Gary Senise to Ben Affleck, a line he admirably delivers through clench teeth and with a straight face: "I read your letters, convict. Don't play no reindeer games with me." That's why I spotlight these movies. Their existence proves ANYONE can write a screenplay.)
Duncan's best friend in the clink is Nick, who has developed a romantic relationship via letters to a beautiful woman on the outside named Ashley (Charlize Theron). When they are set to be released in a few days, Ashley is supposed to be waiting to pick up Nick.
When Nick is apparently killed in a prison riot, Rudy masquerades as Nick in order to get some sweet, sweet loving. He's been in jail a long time after all. Rudy discovers that this a pretty sweet set-up. He looks like Ben Affleck, he has wild, acrobatic sex with a woman who looks like Charlize Theron, and she pays for everything.
One day when Rudy walks into their hotel room, expecting to have some more sex, he is greeted with a baseball bat to the gut and a group of men waiting for him. That will kill the mood.
It's Ashley's brother, Gabriel (Gary Senise), who has learned through Ashley's correspondence that Nick used to work at a casino. Since he believes Rudy to be Nick, Rudy is dragged along to help them rob the casino. While dressed as a gang of Santas in order to provide a distraction.
The plot takes some "clever" twists and turns as the gang of Santas try to successfully rob the casino and Rudy tries to escape from these psychopaths. Plus, Ashton Kutcher shows up and almost gets his ass kicked as a version of his Kelso character from "That 70's Show."
The Verdict: UGLY
The twists and turns in the plot feel contrived and completely unnecessary. There isn't a single likeable character in this film. Do you really want to root for Ben Affleck's ex-convict character who pretends to be his dead best friend and steals his girlfriend? The only redeemable quality that this movie has is some Charlize Theron nudity. If you're into that sort of thing.
Best line in the film:
"You wanna hear about some job of mine. I want some goddamn hot chocolate and some fucking pecan pie" - Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) who is hungry for pie.'