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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Tom Arnold, Heather Locklear, Beverly D'Angelo, Tom Sizemore, Richard T. Jones
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Joseph Merhi
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
100 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Breaking Glass Pictures (DVD)
 "Game of Life" a "Crash" Test for Dummies 
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Okay, so not EVERY Breaking Glass Pictures release do I adore. In the case of Game of Life, the word "abhor" comes to mind.

Okay, that might be a bit strong. However, from its opening moments it's abundantly clear that Game of Life is a film that has an important message and you're damn well going to get that message even if they have to drum it into your skill with a cinematic sledgehammer.

With the tag line "There are no timeouts in life," Game of Life kicks off as an ensemble flick centered around a group of five families in Los Angeles whose lives, you guessed it, intersect. Unfortunately, in this case we have Heather Locklear instead of Sandra Bullock and Tom Arnold instead of Matt Dillon.

It ain't looking good.

The film, according to its IMDB page, examines the "complexities of racial and class divisions" while also providing ample opportunities for actors to over-act and emote histrionically in several scenes that are more irritating than my ex-girlfriend on the day she walked out. The film's ultimate theme is that family is what holds us all together, and there are a few scenes that drive this home in a way that do give you a solid indicator of this film's potential. While the film's headliners for the most part disappoint, it's the film's secondary players who leave a lasting impression during the limited minutes they are allowed on screen.

The family element in Game of Life, played out mostly through the presence of a children's soccer team, isn't given nearly enough weight here and, instead, we're treated to scene after scene of social injustice that we just know, at least on some level, is going to be righted by the end of the film.

First released in 2007, Game of Life has been given new life by the fine folks at Breaking Glass Pictures. BGP is a master distrib at marketing indie flicks, but it's going to be interesting to see how they manage to make this film appeal to a wider audience. Out of curiosity, I checked on IMDB and found that 75/110 users who'd rated the film rated it 1 on a scale of 10 while 13 gave it a 10.

Ouch.

Game of Life did experience some life on the film festival circuit with appearances at Monaco Charity Film Festival, Kent Film Festival and Phoenix Film Festival. While some may marvel at the quality of the cast given its indie status, it's worth noting that the film's production budget was a respectable $2 million and the final product falls signifcantly short of any number of microcinema productions I've had the privilege of reviewing this year.

Game of Life is the kind of film that has noble intentions, yet it's so completely convinced of its own importance that it begins to collapse under the weight of those intentions. The film may give even the most passionate haters of Crash a reminder of just how much worse that film could have been.

If this is the Game of Life, kill me now.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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