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Simple Pleasures



Essays, Not Rants! 310: Simple Pleasure


I saw Game Night last night and it’s a delight of a movie. It takes a clever conceit (an immersive game night goes a step too far) and builds on it to great affect. There are some really clever turns that mix with a movie full of a surprising amount of heart and some great laughs. It’s a lot of fun and I really liked it.


I mean, it’s not, y’know, an important movie by any stretch. Like it’s not one that’s gonna go down in the annals of comedy, probably. But it's a lotta fun.


Kinda like the recent remake of The Magnificent Seven. I can acknowledge that it is not a super great movie, it doesn't go as deep as it could with the assembled talent, has a climax that borders on perfunctory, and is by all accounts a shadow of the, well, magnificence, of the original.


And yet.


I really like it. Enough so to put it on a year end list. And yes, I'm totally willing to admit that it's because of the Asian Cowboy. And also because multinational teams scratches a very specific itch for me. I don't really care about the movie’s flaws; I can acknowledge them, but it hardly diminishes my affection for the film. I doubt anyone's gonna remember it in five-odd years. But.


There's the book Ready Player One. It's a nerdy nirvana of a book, rife with references to 80s pop culture in all its forms. I know it smacks of wish fulfillment, which given author Ernest Cline’s own childhood in the 80s, definitely casts the novel, where an encyclopedic knowledge of 80s pop culture is needed to win the race and basically become the richest person ever, into a somewhat juvenile author’s fantasy.


And yet.


It's such fun. The references, from the most obvious to the deepest cuts are fun, and getting them makes you feel like you're part of the club; it's like a nerdy Ulysses. Ready Player One is the first (and only!) time I've seen Ultraman referenced outside of Asia; and he's a mild plot point! There's a chapter dedicated to Wade trying to get a perfect score in Pac-Man, which, as someone who can do a perfect run on the first five levels of Pac-Man, I very much appreciate the detail. It's also a book that treats online friendships as legitimate, which, hey! That's really cool!


I know Ready Player One is definitely not high literature, but it makes no claims as such. It's a fun read, and I love it for that. It's entertaining.


And isn't that what entertainment is supposed to be? Yes, there is the empirical good and bad (The Only Living Boy in New York is two hours of my life I'm never getting back, somewhat assuaged by running a commentary in an empty theater with a good friend), but past a certain point is it enough for something to be fun? I feel like there's often such a rush for a piece of fiction to be Important that we forget about the fun of it all. Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is not a super deep or particularly outstanding game; but it is a ridiculous amount of fun to play. And that's why I like the game. It's why I really like The Magnificent Seven and Ready Player One, they're fun.


Game Night’s a lotta fun, and I did really like it. And at the day, I think that’s enough. I don’t think I need to justify that to you (or myself), Sometimes it’s enough to just be entertained. 'cuz, y’know, it’s entertainment.

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:kaukau: Obviously, if you look at the reviews that I've been doing lately, I've been watching a lot of discussion-starting art films -- although I have to admit, having deep discussions about movies afterward with my fellow deep-thinking friends really entertains me, because my form of extroversion gives me a ton of energy when I have deep conversations with people, but still.  I also watched Game Night.  My sister and I saw a trailer while watching The Disaster Artist.  It looked awesome.  Not deep at all, just legitimately god at entertaining.  And you know what?  It was.  I liked it and had a good time.  There wasn't much to discuss afterward, other than that I suppose I wish that I had a regular group of friends with a regular game night schedule.  My sister and a few other family members stockpile a ton of games.  We call them the "Gamekeepers."  Games are pretty fun.


Anyway, as for the movie itself, I thought it was pretty cool how it was all over the place, and yet none of the directions that it took were detours.  Everything made sense in the end and had its place.  That was pretty cool.  Really well written, and clever.


This article reminds me of roller coaster rides.  They're short, and they don't really have a deeper meaning.  You enjoy them for a brief moment before it's over.  And yet we don't question their existence.  We don't ask, "What's the point in being entertained?"  Unless, of course, you're a really depressed philosopher.  And okay, I'll admit that in moments of existential crisis, I have asked that question.  In those times, though, I'm not only asking what the point in being entertained is, but what the point in anything is.


You know what I find cool?  Sports.  What's the point in competing?  What are you competing over?  A trophy?  A medal?  It's not like Bara Magna where people are competing over actual resources.  When the U.S. beat Canada in hockey, what did we accomplish, really?  Just a pat on the back?  That's it?  Okay then...but you know, I still find it immensely satisfying.  It was awesome watching that game.


By the way, I've heard reference to this Ultraman.  Not enough to know much about him, but I've heard references.



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Isn't Ulysses itself like a nerdy Ulysses? Like, I know for certain that dropping references to mythology and literature all over the place in high school would get me pegged as a nerd just as quickly as dropping comic book or sci-fi references.


Anyway, I haven't read Ready Player One myself, but with the movie on its way I've seen people sharing excerpts that make me rather uncomfortable with its handling of gender-related issues.

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