cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy


Click for full sized poster

Reindeer Games

Rated [R], 98 minutes
Starring Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Sinise
Screenplay by Ehren Kruger
Directed by John Frankenheimer
website: www.reindeergames-themovie.com

IN SHORT: Just an average thrill ride.

So here we have a movie with a Christmas theme, coming at us in February. Starting with two pasty white boys in a maximum security prison called Iron Mountain. Nick Cassady (James Frain), is finishing a two year pop for smashing in the head of some dweeb who messed with his ex-girlfriend. Nick's only thought, now that freedom is near, is to getting a piece of babelicious pen pal Ashley (Charlize Theron). Pictures of the bikini clad babe line the walls and all letters are shared with Nick's cellmate Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck), usually found working off his sexual frustration down on the floor doing pushups and showing off his jail tattoos. Two days later, Rudy walks out the gates, a free man. Nick, for reasons left unsaid, doesn't. Waiting outside the gate is the girl of Nick's dreams, waiting to meet the man she's never seen. After a wee bit of deep thought -- we know it's deep thought 'cuz Affleck voices over this bit of the film -- Rudy decides to call himself Nick and put the wood to the mousy lady standing all alone in the Michigan snow.

Heck, guys, if you spent five years as studmuffin to the con in the next cell, would you pass up a chance for a piece of Charlize Theron? Cranky thinks not. So, "Nick" unwraps his Christmas present a couple of days early and before he knows it, he's neck deep in a harebrained scam to rip off an Indian casino on Christmas eve. That brings us to the third member of our unholy trio, Ashley's trucker/gunrunner brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise) and his posse from hell (Clarence Williams III, Danny Trejo, Donal Logue. All menacing in their own way. All filling the usual quota for minority actors in mostly underwritten stereotype tough guy roles). Turns out that the real Nick was a security guard for said casino and that Ashley's brother Gabriel (aka "Monster") figured the inside knowledge would be enough to facilitate a big score.

Which it would have, if it weren't really Rudy trying to figure out how to save his neck from the local locos who will pop him (and probably the girl, too) once all is said and done. It's all a set up for a beautifully paced man-in-over-his-head stock story. Writer Ehren Kruger (where have I heard that name before. . . .) hurls escape attempts, sexual trysts, hard core macho situations onto the screen as you rocket towards the robbery that "Nick" has to pull together.

Two problems with what otherwise would have been a superior popcorn flick: One is evident from the very first shot of the movie in which we discover that most of the film is told in flashback (and the closer you get to rejoining "real time" the less vicarious the thrill gets). Two is that Kruger's script fits his pattern -- I looked him up. Kruger who set up a great story in Arlington Road, which fell apart if you thought about the twists and turns at the end too much. He wrote the screenplay for Scream 3, which hits the wall when the "real" GhostFace explains it all to you at the end, like the bad guy in a Bond flick. In Reindeer Games, Kruger lets loose with more story twists than you can believe. Frankly, Cranky can believe a lot, but the capper was the one that you'll have to see for yourself. The crowd I sat with groaned when it happened. Cranky wasn't smart enough to figure it all out on first sight, but he didn't buy the revelation. Like the aforementioned Bond flicks, if you've got to have everything explained to you, the writer didn't do his job in the first two acts.

The net result isn't a disaster, but it's nothing worth waiting hours on line for, either. That puts it somewhere between wait for PPV and find a second run screening.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Reindeer Games, he would have paid...

$4.50

For most of its reel time, a Reindeer Games is a fast paced popcorn flick. But once you hit the surprise end and you'll be wanting to throw the unpopped kernels back at the screen.

Click to buy films by John Frankenheimer
Click to buy films starring Ben Affleck
Click to buy films starring Charlize Theron
Click to buy films starring Gary Sinise
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.