Games People Play: New York Most reality TV is such a tease, so utterly controlled in its attempt to be shameless, that it's easy to hook into the "Banzai!" how-low-can-we-get-people-to-stoop… Games People Play: New York Most reality TV is such a tease, so utterly controlled in its attempt to be shameless, that it's easy to hook into the "Banzai!" how-low-can-we-get-people-to-stoop… 2004-03-12 Unrated PT97M Documentary Artistic License Films
Movie Review

Games People Play (2004)

MPAA Rating: Unrated
Games People Play: New York | STRANGE 'PEOPLE' The promise of reality stardom will make folks get freaky
STRANGE 'PEOPLE' The promise of reality stardom will make folks get freaky
EW's GRADE
B

Details Limited Release: Mar 12, 2004; Rated: Unrated; Length: 97 Minutes; Genre: Documentary; Distributor: Artistic License Films

Most reality TV is such a tease, so utterly controlled in its attempt to be shameless, that it's easy to hook into the ''Banzai!'' how-low-can-we-get-people-to-stoop spirit of Games People Play: New York. Directed by James Ronald Whitney, whose ''Just, Melvin'' (2001) was a confessional documentary about his victimization by incest, ''Games'' (which is proudly unrated) presents itself as the first installment of the ultimate reality-stunt franchise. In New York City, a public audition is held to find six contestants who are willing to peel off their clothes, divulge their darkest secrets, and, in one sequence that is terrifying in its silliness, pick up random civilians to join a ''Naked Trio,'' which turns out to be very bad nude singing and dancing in a hotel room.

The auditions generate a frisson of shock. Just about all of the participants are good-looking aspiring actors (the sort of people, in other words, you generally encounter reciting the chef's special in upscale restaurants), and their willingness to get naked on camera is, in every respect, eye-opening. ''Games People Play,'' however, is a bit of a tease itself. The movie keeps threatening to become amateur porn, like a risqué ''Candid Camera'' gone ''Dirty Debutantes,'' but it never quite gets there (though a section called ''Casting Couch'' comes close). Instead, as the contestants talk of bulimia and prostitution and Tourette's syndrome, shedding enough tears for 10 Barbara Walters specials, Whitney pulls off a big twist, leaving you to ask, What is reality?

Originally posted Mar 24, 2004 Published in issue #758 Apr 02, 2004 Order article reprints
Advertisement

From Our Partners