Reindeer Games (2000) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, language and sexuality
Running Time: 104 min. (director's cut runs 124 min.)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, Charlize Theron, Clarence Williams III
Director: John Frankenheimer
Screenplay: Ehren Kruger
Review published March 8, 2000
As soon as you find out that the movie's set around Christmas time, and the main characters in the film are named "Rudy" and "Nick", you know you're going to be in for a painfully bad time, and if you're looking for a really bad film to make fun of, REINDEER GAMES definitely delivers.
The ridiculous plot surrounds a car thief (the aforementioned Rudy) just getting out of the joint after six years, who assumes the identity of his recently shanked cellmate (the aforementioned Nick) in order to get some cheap thrills from Nick's penpal girlfriend, Ashley. Bad stuff happens when Ashley's brother and his gang of thugs kidnap Rudy in order to get information on how to stage an armed robbery at an Indian casino the real Nick used to work at.
Will the real John Frankenheimer please stand up? For every MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and RONIN he directs, it seems there's an ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU or REINDEER GAMES to keep him from making a name for himself. Of course, laying blame on Frankenheimer alone for this infuriating fiasco just can't be done, because there's no way one person could have made a movie this bad all on his own.
Yes, blame also should be dealt heavily on screenwriter Ehren Kruger, who also wrote such gems of movie magic as SCREAM 3 and ARLINGTON ROAD. It must be said that his script isn't always predictable...at times the twists and turns are so far-fetched that you'd have to be either an idiot or genius to conceive of plot points this hard to swallow (and Kruger is no genius).
Then there's the terrible ensemble of actors, the worst of which is Ben Affleck himself, who in other films has been quite good but here is so uncharismatic and hammy in trying to spin off one-liners to no avail that most viewers will hope Sinise finally does everyone justice by capping his ass from the first smarmy smirk...Cary Grant he's not...or Lou Grant for that matter.
If REINDEER GAMES succeeds at anything, it's in actually being worse than the god-awful CHAIN REACTION in the NORTH BY NORTHWEST action clone genre. It starts out by hitting you on the head with a Stupid Stick and wailing away for the duration, and will leave most viewers with a hangover from the sheer idiocy of it all. If you're still intent on watching this film after all of my warnings, be prepared to ask yourself the toughest of questions: What did you shamefully waste the most after watching REINDEER GAMES...your money or your time?
©2000 Vince Leo