Reindeer Games Preview

“This is why we’re here?” Jamie asks incredulously. “No, we’re here because dumb bum Ty over there jumped in the time machine and overloaded the time imputation processor (not to get too technical about it). We need to fix the machine and get home because we don’t know what freak dimension this is.” LePumice nods vigorously in agreement. Even a trained time cop never considered the possibility of an interdimensional time jump and he can barely hide the terror in his eyes. But Patrick has a little smirk on his face as he listens to them fret. “Oh really,” he says, “well how ‘bout you check this out.” With that he turns to face Bongo and Mash. “Officers, I think you’ll find we present to you a tidy solution. Our teeny-bopper friend Ty here will accompany your daughters to the Fourth of July bash. No need to be jealous, friendos.” With that he winks at Jasper and Kelley. But Bongo and Mash only stare blankly at him. “Fourth of July?” Mash says confused. “Are you OK, son? Our daughters aren’t going to the Fourth of July bash with anyone. Certainly not a couple of bozos who arrived a second ago in our town, breaking our rules, and looking like you done come from some dumb terminator future. Now beat it before we arrest you for disorderly conduct.” Bongo and Mash turn back to Jasper and Kelley, who are now looking at Jamie and Patrick suspiciously. Patrick is at a loss. “I… uh… wait, are you sure?” Bongo and Mash sigh and quickly whip around to slap cuffs on Jamie and Patrick. “Alright, I didn’t want to have to do this fellas,” Mash says sternly, “but you forced my hand. Have fun spending Christmas Eve sobering up in jail.” Christmas Eve?! That’s right! It’s time for some fun and games… some reindeer fun and games. Because we’re watching Reindeer Games if you didn’t get that. Feels like this Affleck vehicle has been on the table forever and a bit of a shocker we never watched it. Let’s go!  

Reindeer Games (2000) – BMeTric: 37.6; Notability: 60

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 16.8%; Notability: top 3.6%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 25.2%; Higher BMeT: Battlefield Earth, Dungeons & Dragons, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Urban Legends: Final Cut, 102 Dalmatians, Highlander: Endgame, Dracula 2000, Supernova, Big Momma’s House, Get Carter, The Next Best Thing, Little Nicky, Down to You, Hanging Up, Lost Souls, Bless the Child, The Crow: Salvation, Fortress 2: Re-Entry, and 22 more; Higher Notability: Little Nicky, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Coyote Ugly, Mission to Mars, Ready to Rumble, Lost Souls, Proof of Life, Rules of Engagement; Lower RT: 3 Strikes, Fortress 2: Re-Entry, My 5 Wives, The in Crowd, Battlefield Earth, Bless the Child, Down to You, Lost Souls, Turn It Up, Circus, The Skulls, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Dungeons & Dragons, Supernova, I Dreamed of Africa, Ed Gein, Screwed, The Watcher, Boys and Girls, The Ladies Man, and 39 more; Notes: Notability is the name of the game here I suppose. I think one of the surprises there is Coyote Ugly having a 60+ notability. That’s a lot of notable people in that film I think a lot of people would have forgotten about.

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – “Reindeer Games” is the first All Talking Killer picture. After the setup, it consists mostly of characters explaining their actions to one another. I wish I’d had a stopwatch, to clock how many minutes are spent while one character holds a gun to another character’s head and gabs. Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise between them explain so much they reminded me of Gertrude Stein’s line about Ezra Pound: “He was a village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.” Just a nudge, and the movie would fall over into self-parody, and maybe work better. But I fear it is essentially serious, or as serious as such goofiness can be.

(I wonder if this is the only reference to Ezra Pound related to Reindeer Games. What a ref. Legendary. I do know what I like most in my action films is talking.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0856Uv4QmtI/

(Incredible. The entire trailer kind of covers up the main conceit of the film. Because you see … Ben Affleck isn’t “Nick”. He isn’t the one who wrote letters to Theron or worked in the casino. That was his cellmate. But Senise doesn’t believe that, and things go awry. Funny that the movie actually seems a bit more fun without that conceit in the end.)

DirectorsJohn Frankenheimer – ( Known For: Ronin; Prophecy; The Manchurian Candidate; The Train; Seconds; Grand Prix; Black Sunday; 52 Pick-Up; Seven Days in May; French Connection II; Birdman of Alcatraz; I Walk the Line; The Holcroft Covenant; The Iceman Cometh; The Gypsy Moths; The Challenge; The Fixer; The Young Savages; 99 and 44/100% Dead!; All Fall Down; Future BMT: Dead Bang; Year of the Gun; BMT: The Island of Dr. Moreau; Reindeer Games; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1997; Notes: Was a legendary director and received an honorary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. He also won four Emmys for four miniseries he directed in the 90s. I’m actually a bit surprised he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for some of his films from the 60s. This was his last film, he died a few years later.)

WritersEhren Kruger – ( Known For: The Ring; Ghost in the Shell; Scream 3; Dumbo; Arlington Road; New World Disorder; Future BMT: Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; The Skeleton Key; The Brothers Grimm; Impostor; Blood and Chocolate; BMT: Transformers: Age of Extinction; The Ring Two; Reindeer Games; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2010; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 2012 for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; and in 2015 for Transformers: Age of Extinction; Notes: Just wrote the new Top Gun film. Cut his teeth via a ton of collaborations with Michael Bay.)

ActorsBen Affleck – ( Known For: Deep Water; The Last Duel; Zack Snyder’s Justice League; Dazed and Confused; Gone Girl; Good Will Hunting; Argo; The Town; Triple Frontier; The Tender Bar; Daredevil; The Accountant; He’s Just Not That Into You; Shakespeare in Love; Field of Dreams; Dogma; Jay and Silent Bob Reboot; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; Mallrats; The Sum of All Fears; Future BMT: Suicide Squad; Justice League; Pearl Harbor; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Smokin’ Aces; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Live by Night; 200 Cigarettes; Surviving Christmas; BMT: Armageddon; Paycheck; Runner Runner; Gigli; Reindeer Games; Phantoms; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor in 2004 for Daredevil, Gigli, and Paycheck; Winner for Worst Screen Combo for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2017; Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Gigli in 2004; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; in 2005 for Jersey Girl, and Surviving Christmas; and in 2017 for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Last Duel in 2022; Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for Daredevil, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Paycheck, Pearl Harbor, and Surviving Christmas; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; and in 2005 for Jersey Girl; Notes: Y’all know Ben Affleck. Publicly struggled with alcohol and other personal matters, but he seems to have maybe found his … Way Back, heyooooooooooooooo.)

Gary Sinise – ( Known For: Forrest Gump; The Green Mile; The Quick and the Dead; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Apollo 13; Joe Bell; Of Mice and Men; Snake Eyes; Ransom; I Still Believe; Open Season; The Human Stain; The Big Bounce; Albino Alligator; A Midnight Clear; A Wedding; SGT. Will Gardner; Bruno; All the Rage; Future BMT: Mission to Mars; The Forgotten; Impostor; Jack the Bear; BMT: Reindeer Games; Notes: Definitely most well known for his starring role in CSI: NY … wait, no, I think it might be for Forrest Gump, which is was nominated for an Oscar. He won an Emmy for his role in Frankenheimer’s miniseries George Wallace.)

Charlize Theron – ( Known For: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; F9: The Fast Saga; Mad Max: Fury Road; Prometheus; The Devil’s Advocate; Monster; The Old Guard; Bombshell; That Thing You Do!; The Italian Job; Snow White and the Huntsman; Atomic Blonde; The Road; The Fate of the Furious; Long Shot; Young Adult; 2 Days in the Valley; Hancock; The Cider House Rules; North Country; Future BMT: A Million Ways to Die in the West; The Huntsman: Winter’s War; The Addams Family 2; Trapped; Sweet November; 15 Minutes; BMT: The Astronaut’s Wife; Æon Flux; Reindeer Games; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress, and Worst Screen Combo for A Million Ways to Die in the West in 2015; and Nominee for Worst Actress for Sweet November in 2002; Notes: Won an Oscar for Monster and nominated for two others (for Bombshell and North Country). Is set up for three sequels, Atomic Blonde 2, The Old Guard 2, and Fast X.)

Budget/Gross – $42,000,000 / Domestic: $23,368,995 (Worldwide: $32,168,970)

(A definitive bust. Not that surprising, it got terrible reviews at a time when that definitely mattered.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (23/90): Despite a decent cast, subpar acting and a contrived plot disappointed reviewers.

(Yeah, sounds about right. But here’s the thing … I like contrived plots. They are often turn-off-your-brain hilarious.)

Reviewer Highlight: Reindeer Games is basically a test of your ability to accept a slushpile of implausible twisteroos and Tarantino-style conceits. – Desson Thomson, Washington Post

Poster – Lame-deer Games

(One the one hand I respect it, cause it’s classic and the orange pops (although not all that Chirstmas-y). On the other the font is bad and I’d be thoroughly confused by the little scene they put in the upper right corner. I’d be like, wait… a bunch of Santas and a Casino… I guess I don’t know why that’s so important that we have to see it on the poster. C-.)

Tagline(s) – The trap is set. The game is on. (B-)

(How many movies could this be the tagline for? Answer: hundreds. How many board games could this be the tagline for? Answer: one, Mousetrap. Otherwise not the worst tagline. Short and got some cadence.)

Keyword(s) – dimension

Top 10: Sin City (2005), Spectre (2015), The Others (2001), Scream (1996), Equilibrium (2002), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), The Mist (2007), Death Proof (2007), 1408 (2007), Scary Movie (2000)

Future BMT: 86.5 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005), 82.8 Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011), 77.4 Who’s Your Caddy? (2007), 76.9 Superhero Movie (2008), 70.6 Halloween II (2009), 70.1 Black Christmas (2006), 68.6 Pulse (2006), 66.9 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 64.9 Scary Movie 4 (2006), 61.8 Cursed (2005)

BMT: Scary Movie V (2013), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), My Boss’s Daughter (2003), Highlander: Endgame (2000), Dracula 2000 (2000), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998), Phantoms (1998), Texas Rangers (2001), Reindeer Games (2000), Mindhunters (2004)

Best Options (Action): 86.5 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005), 82.8 Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011), 76.9 Superhero Movie (2008), 66.9 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 37.6 Reindeer Games (2000), 37.0 The Brothers Grimm (2005), 33.0 Fortress (1992), 30.5 Gunmen (1993)

(Looking at this, am I disappointed that we didn’t have this algorithm to tell us The Crow: City of Angels was probably our best option? A little. But I also think Reindeer Games was a long time coming for BMT so ultimately I think I’m fine with it. Crushing dat early-2000s Dimension I have to say.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ben Affleck is No. 1 billed in Reindeer Games and No. 1 billed in Gigli, which also stars Al Pacino (No. 7 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (1 + 1) + (7 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 14. If we were to watch Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 8.

Notes – In October 2007, Charlize Theron said in an interview in Esquire magazine that “Reindeer Games” was her least favorite of all her films. She said: “That was a bad, bad, bad movie. But I got to work with John Frankenheimer. I wasn’t lying to myself – that’s why I did it.”

The film was cut by over twenty minutes before its original theatrical release date of December 1999 because of both a poor test screening and the MPAA’s objections over the infamous dart torture scene. John Frankenheimer’s preferred version was dark, gritty, and sexier. The film was released in Feburary 2000 in its shorter 104 minute version. Frankenheimer’s original version was released a year later with the twenty minutes restored on DVD as his “Director’s Cut”.

The character names Rudy and Nick are an allusion to the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from which this movie takes its title. Nick (St. Nicholas) orchestrates the entire plan, only to have Rudy (Rudolph) lead it.

At the time of shooting, Gary Sinise was romantically involved with Charlize Theron.

In the scene where Dana Stubblefield stabs Ben Affleck, Stubbie accidentally knocked Affleck down, causing a concussion. Filming had to be halted while Affleck recovered.

John Frankenheimer’s last feature-length, theatrically distributed film.

Alan Silvestri was hired in late 1999 to score the film after replacing Jerry Goldsmith, who left due to creative differences. Silvestri had only a month to score the film, with the music being recorded in early January 2000.

Originally planned for a Christmas 1999 release, but delayed until February 2000 after a poor test screening in mid 1999.

The music that plays during the scene where all of the Santas, including Ben Affleck, appear together at the poker table is “Sleigh Bells”, which is a tip off for the impending robbery.

Ashton Kutcher: as the man with whom Rudy (Ben Affleck) switches clothes, in the bathroom.

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