I can’t tell which I like better: to be tortured or to be lectured by someone smug?
With FUNNY GAMES, director Michael Haneke invites you to experience both simultaneously.
It’s hard to review FUNNY GAMES because it’s not a movie. It is a pompous lecture about how awful our society is for enjoying action films. You see Michael Haneke thinks we have become desensitized to violence. Many of our contemporary action films involve dozens of men being shot, stabbed, blown up or impaled while an audience cheers the action on. So Michael Haneke, sitting proudly atop his high horse, is going to ruin the fun for you. He’s going to make a film that has the basic structure of a thriller, only it’s going to be even MORE sadistic, MORE violent, and MORE cruel. Oh and it’s not going to have any sort of happy ending or relief from the constant barrage of torture. Sounds like fun huh?
To go over the plot is pretty much useless. This film is not interested in telling a story. It’s only interested that you get the point. Now that you’ve read what the point is, you can save your time and money and relieve yourself of the experience of watching two innocent people be tortured, humiliated and brutally murdered. Ann (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) take their son to their house in the Hamptons for a nice weekend getaway. They are interrupted when two young men (Brady Corbett and Michael Pitt) knock on their door and ask for eggs. When they are let in, they proceed to sadistically torture all three of them.
You’ll see Watts be forced to strip naked for the sole purpose of embarrassment. You’ll see Roth get hit with a golf club. You’ll see their 9 year old son get shot in the face with a shotgun. You’ll see Watts try to get a phone to work for twenty minutes in a sequence so agonizing and drawn out I prayed for the shotgun treatment. Every time it seems that Ann and George might escape or turn their fortunes around, they come up short. This leads to a scene so reprehensible I almost threw something at the screen. Ann wrestles a gun away from one of her captors and shoots them. The other one picks up a remote control, actually rewinds the film, and makes sure the incident never happens. It is at this point where Haneke gets so carried away with ramming his message down our throats that he ends up destroying any impact the film could ever have. The entire movie hinges on realism. If Haneke is saying that our violence in entertainment is too stylized then why include the remote control scene? If the object is to shock people into realizing that violence is very real and has very real consequences then why was any semblance of realism just tossed out the window? By rewinding the action it means that no action on screen actually HAS any consequences. His entire thesis is nullified in this one dopey, unnecessary sequence.
The bottom line is that this film is sadistic, cruel and most of all stupid. It’s a remake of Haneke’s original FUNNY GAMES that was in German and directed by Haneke almost shot for shot. What purpose could it possibly serve to remake his crap again? And talented people like Naomi Watts and Tim Roth agreed to be in it? It’s a boring lecture from a stupid filmmaker that isn’t enjoyable in any way to watch. Why anybody would enjoy this film is beyond me. Paying to watch people be tortured is a recent phenomena with films like HOSTEL and SAW. I still haven’t found out what the appeal is. At least those films are intended to be fun. This one is just intended to torture.