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Movie Review

Funny Games U.S.

MPAA Rating: R for terror, violence and some language

Reviewed by: Christopher Walker
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Horror, Thriller, Suspense
Length:
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
March 14, 2008 (limited)
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Independent Pictures

About murder in the Bible

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

Featuring: Naomi Watts, Brady Corbet, Siobhan Fallon, Arno Frisch, Boyd Gaines, Devon Gearhart, Robert LuPone, Linda Moran, Michael Pitt, Tim Roth,
Director: Michael Haneke
Producer: Rene Bastian, Christian Baute, Adam Brightman, Chris Coen, Skady Lis, Hamish McAlpine, Linda Moran, Hengameh Panahi, Valerie Romer, Jonathan Schwartz, Andro Steinborn, Douglas C. Steiner, Naomi Watts
Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures

“You must admit, you brought this on yourself.”

There is horror, and then there is true horror. Director Michael Haneke has made a darkly disturbing film called “Funny Games” which is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s actually a shot-for-shot remake of his German version of the same name. Even if you have never seen or heard of the original German film, you might appreciate this version, if your stomach can handle it. It’s a sick and disturbing commentary about media-violence, as one of the film’s killers Paul (Michael Pitt) breaks the fourth-barrier wall and plays with the audience minds.

The movie centers on an American family, as their vacation turns into a nightmare: Ann (Naomi Watts), her husband George (Tim Roth), and her son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) are placed in a series of nightmarish games by their captors, the aforementioned intelligent Paul and his slow-witted accomplice Peter (Brady Corbett). The killers introduce themselves at first—blending in and referring to themselves as “friends” and nephews of the neighbor’s down the street. They annoy Ann to the point where she tells them to leave the house. George intervenes, and in the process slaps Peter when he talks back to him in a repulsive manner. Peter hits him with a golf club, and then proceeds in terrorizing the family with sick games that will determine their fate. Violence occur throughout the movie, though none of the major acts are shown on film, and there is some minor nudity (although it isn't shown either).

“Funny Games” might be the first truly great film of 2008 that will appear on my top 10 list, but it might be too early for that. What makes this film hold its own are the bravado performances, suspenseful editing, cinematography, and a sense of direction from Haneke himself; he knows what he’s doing and achieves it well. In between the heightened scenes of suspense, the character Paul asks the audience if they want to see the movie take a happy direction and even invites us to place bets on whether or not the family will survive. He is even aware of the audience and knows that it is a movie, but he plays upon that aspect and gives us a few twists and turns along the way. His friend even gets in a conversation with Paul about crossing the line between fantasy and reality.

All in all, “Funny Games” is a very gritty and poignant look at how the media views violence. It plays with our expectations: Just when you have it all figured out, it makes a 360 degree-angle shift out of nowhere. It may take a while for the viewer to get the point behind it. It might not. But nevertheless, it’s a great art-house experience in what suspenseful moviemaking is like.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive

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Neutral
Neutral—I give this five stars for the acting and production value ONLY. This is NOT an entertaining film whatsoever. If you think otherwise, then you need to run to a therapist. Like the original, this film is somewhat of a challenge to sit through. It is a statement on America's obsession with violence in the media, and it not only presents some of the most disturbing moments in cinema history, but makes you feel guilty for watching it all in the first place. The killers, played to creepy perfection by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet, often look directly into the camera—at us, the audience, and dare us to continue watching. It's powerful and effective stuff. And like I said, almost unbearable to watch. Naomi Watts gives a strong performance as well, as does Tim Roth. You can't really recommend a film like this without strong caution, and I will not cease to do so here. Not for the squeamish—and definitely not for anyone under the age of 17. A shot-for-shot remake.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Adam Renkovish, age 25
Neutral—I didn't know what I was gonna get when I popped this DVD into my player, and what I got was an extremely well made film that left me with mixed feelings. This film has everything to make a great fillm: plot, acting, suspense, script--but it is also a poignant, emotionally disturbing thriller that makes you sick to your stomach. The violence is minimal as not very visceral, it's the emotion and thought that goes along with that gets you sick. Everything happens without mercy or remorse, and with a young kid witnessing the whole ordeal.

This film is NOT entertaining, but I admired the film's quality. I can't recommend it, but it's a movie that filmmakers should watch to get tips from. Great direction, weird twist that really makes you think deeply, but not something to watch for a fun time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ben Badger, age 17 (USA)
Negative

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