A teenage coding genius has just 30 days to create the world’s greatest video game or his family loses everything. No pressure.
Here is a fast-paced movie, which both video-game lovers and people who enjoy their co-workers will love. In fact, those who have dealt with real-life family problems will relate to the film as well. In this case, there is a character in the story and he’s a critical parent of an adult child. He doesn’t like his career choice. The movie features terrific actors such as Sean Astin as game creator Jimmy Tisdale, and Mira Sorvino as CEO of Playfield Games, Kate Mayfield. The acting is solid all around including that of one of the main characters, Troy Mayfield (Chris Carpenter), Kate’s teen son and video game lover who is given a chance to come up with a solution when the company faces stiff competition at the upcoming “Pixelcon,” a video game convention. The convention features new product from Playfield as well as major competitor, Xodus.
There’s a lot to like regarding the movie, because of its human stories, including Troy’s crush on a girl named Paige, who is quite a singer in the school choir at Lincoln High but freezes up when she has to go solo. Troy develops a program on her phone that can help ease her mind while she is performing. The film incorporates a theme of helping one another to get work done and it’s a lesson that young Troy needs to learn himself. He wants to do it all himself and he isn’t very open to suggestions, even from people like Jimmy who have been with the company for many years. Another very real subplot in the film is the fact that Troy’s mother Kate is suffering from Muscular Sclerosis and, in fact, has a flare-up during a critical time when the company is trying to prepare for Pixelcon.
Another theme that’s nicely portrayed is that of carrying on a legacy, as Troy’s father-and co-founder of the company along with Kate-has died. Troy wants to carry on the game legacy but at one point it looks as if the company may go belly up and the legacy would end. Rick, a competitor of Playfield, plots to bring Playfield to an end and it looks like he may very well succeed.
Another nicely portrayed theme is that of friendship and forgiveness. Troy’s best friend is named Nick, and Nick likes to cut up a lot. He likes posting videos online and there is a song which Troy does about the competitor, Xodus, and how they “suck.” Troy performs the song privately and doesn’t want it to be made public. However, Nick goes ahead and posts the song online which gets him a lot of new subscribers, but may result in his losing his friendship with Troy.
Troy and Jimmy butt heads a lot. Jimmy’s latest game, Jack House, is the game that’s been prepped to present at Pixelcon. But Troy doesn’t think it has enough pizzazz to work, along with good enough graphics, and wants to present another game he calls York. He does a presentation in a hood as a character with a staff. In an inside joke for Lord of the Rings fans, Jimmy says to his fellow employees, “The longer we let Gandalf lead us, the greater chance we’re going to lose everything.” He is not happy with the direction Troy is leading the company, even though Kate has given Troy the chance to take the reigns and to find his shining moment.
Another funny joke in the film again involves Jimmy, who is ranting about the direction of the company. Everyone has walked away and Jimmy, staring at the wall, says, “I might as well talk to a wall!” The funny thing is that…well, he is!
Jimmy finally walks out and someone has sent a worm in an e-mail to Troy, which corrupts the entire system. Despite shutting off the power as quickly as possible, both sets of games including Jack House and the new and in-progress York are lost. Is all hope now gone? Who is trying to sabotage Playfield? The Pixelcon is literally a few weeks away. What can be done at this late date in the game?
Without plot spoiling, the movie has a very satisfying conclusion, and shows the importance of a work team pulling together and the miracles that can happen when they do. It also shows how important legacies are, and Troy’s dad George, now gone, still impacts the ending of the story and the film. Is there hope that Jimmy and his dad will make peace, despite his dad being skeptical of Jimmy’s career choice? Will Jimmy come back to the company and will he make peace with Troy? Will Nick and Troy forgive one another? Will Paige and Troy become a couple? There are a lot of subplots set up in the story but each one receives a definite conclusion.
It’s regrettable, but due to the utterance of an “F” bomb in the film, we are unable to award it our Dove seal. There are other uses of mild language in the film, along with some mild innuendos.
The Dove Take:
We wish this film had been more family friendly and had withheld the F bomb, as there are a lot of other things in it to like.