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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

GAME CHANGERS -- DVD Review by Porfle

GAME CHANGERS (Candy Factory Films, 2016) is the story of two childhood friends, extrovert Bryan (Brian Bernys in a riveting performance) and introvert Scott (Jake Albarella), once world-famous gaming superstars in their youth but now settling into a relatively uneventful adulthood doing computer stuff in Bryan's family IT company.

But after sort of a mid-youth crisis, Bryan decides to go all-out in an effort to get that old magic back, build up a young crew of hardcore gamers led by himself and Scott, and take on the gaming world again. 

Can he succeed, or is it too late?  And can Scott give up his own dreams of making it in a world of adult responsibility?

Bryan is one of those love-him AND hate-him characters whose obsessive behavior is both maddening and, in a way, understandable.  Anyway, he behaves just the way we expect him to--in short, he can be a real dick. And yet, we can't help rooting for him on some level.

Scotty, on the other hand, is a loyal friend who allows himself to be used by Bryan until, finally, his loyalty is pushed too far.  This is especially true when Bryan unforgivably sabotages shy Scott's budding romance with a cute co-worker, Katt, who shares many of his nerdish interests. 

Scintillating conflicts abound between Bryan and Scott, Bryan and his dad, Bryan and girlfriend/co-worker Natalie, Bryan and Jake (who has been hired to evaluate efficiency within the company and who also becomes Bryan's rival for Natalie)--basically, Bryan and the rest of the world.  Only when Bryan faces the prospect of losing Scott's friendship does he come close to reining himself in.

Writer/director Rob Imbs (COUCH, "Fart Force") handles it all with a deft, confident touch, hitting just the right tone in every scene and never going for  a cheap laugh or succumbing to maudlin sentiment.

Dialogue is sharp but natural, even when the guys are deep into their most intense gaming sessions or when fervent comic fans discuss their favorite graphic novels.  But you don't have to know a single thing about gaming, or nerd culture in general, to find the dramatic tension in these scenes deeply involving.

GAME CHANGERS is a terrific blend of nerd fantasy and serious interpersonal drama that goes for the unexpected just when you think it's just about to hit all the old buttons.  For a film that could have easily been the BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO of gaming flicks, this is refreshingly close to being the genre's CINCINNATI KID.

Type: DVD/Digital HD (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play)
Running Time: 91 minutes
Rating: N/A
Genre: Dramedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo
Street Date: July 11, 2017


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