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  Wizard's Way Got A Life
Year: 2012
Director: Metal Man
Stars: Chris Killen, Joe Stretch, Socrates Adams-Florou, Kristian Scott, Sadie Frost, Joe Hartley, Jessica Treen, Marc Lunness, Andrew Ross
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: On a camera in a Manchester pawn shop was found a video, which on watching depicts what appears to be a documentary, or at least the raw footage from which a documentary could be edited from. Two young men introduce themselves, Chris (Chris Killen) and Joe (Joe Stretch), and inform the viewer that they are about to watch the story of one of the greatest computer games players ever seen - yet he chooses to exclusively stick to one obscure game, which is called Wizard's Way. The boys try it out for themselves, but this gamer, Windows (Kristian Scott) as he calls himself, must be particularly adept judging by the mess they make of it...

And that's not all they make a mess of in yet another found footage movie, this one a comedy. The only real excuse for making one of those when this was shot should have been down to truly having something new to say with it, and the avalanche of such efforts which failed that test did not bode well for the future of the form. However, Wizard's Way, after a lot of movement towards a film version of the sort of humour British sitcom The Office had made its mark with, that sneering, denigrating style which quickly grew more resistable, directors/writers/performers the Metal Man team achieved a surprising turnaround.

At the beginning it seems as if we're supposed to take the side of the alpha male, and our host, Joe, as he and Chris, both of them fresh out of film school, believe they can burst onto the movie scene with an exposé of the sort of nerdy freaks that appear to be easy targets for a good, long, scornful laugh. When they meet Windows' flatmate, they have struck gold, for Barry Tubbulb (Socrates Adams-Florou) not only has no job, no girlfriend and no social life outside of being best mates with the expert gamer, but his bedroom is the bathroom (he sleeps in the bath) and he is prone to rhapsodising tediously (they think) on his favourite foods, which mainly involve a variation on the hamburger.

Windows is a lot more reserved, but he has his quirks too, the main one being that he has "married" one of the other Wizard's Way players who he may have never met in the real world, but they share an intense relationship online. At this stage the film looks to be setting up a satire of how all-consuming the online world can be, whether it be games or social networking, promising material but then having made that point it progresses to a keener send up of just what is socially acceptable. Not in an obvious, murder is bad manner - nothing here ever gets dragged to that level of degradation - but more in a questioning of what makes one form of activity cool when another, no matter how satisfying for the participants, gets looked down on from a great height.

The true predecessor of this was of course Albert Brooks' cult, spoof documentary Real Life from 1979, which started the trend for showing how the presence of a documentarian in the real world throws up queries about authenticity in such a film or programme when the crew cannot help but influence what they are recording, often due to their mere attendance in their subjects' lives. Chris and Joe think they can drop a bombshell in Windows' life which will make for an impressive twist in their story, and continue to influence his days in an attempt to sustain momentum, even going as far as hiring a female escort (actual proper star Sadie Frost) to pose as his online wife when the real girl (Jessica Treen) is all too willing to introduce herself to him anyway. In a refreshing, provocative reversal of convention, the oh-so-cool judgement makers find themselves seriously lacking, and the film devises a satisfying conclusion where the nerds attain their Nirvana and the supposed sophisticates are well and truly shown up. Nice work.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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