“Don’t have a good day, have a great day. I guess.”
Story: Guy works at a bank, lives in a spotless apartment, and has an adorable goldfish. Life’s pretty damn perfect, no? Well, it seems that way, but he’s “just” an NPC (Non Player Character) in one of the world’s most popular video games. When he finds out that his world is more than he’d realized, he decides to take a good long look…and finds the woman of his dreams. What could go wrong?
Genre I’d put it in: Interwebs Reality Action Comedies
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on Ryan Reynolds’ brand of goofy fun, but otherwise? Original.
Gotta Say: The premise of Free Guy caught my attention from the get-go. An NPC who suddenly catches sentience? I’m listening. Though I’m most definitely not a gamer (I’m the doofus whose character is forever walking into walls because I can’t seem to control anything), I remember NPCs from my days playing D&D, and ran into my fair share of characters plopped into the story to simply pad the game/move the action forward. As that “guy” Guy, Ryan Reynolds dials up the bland whiteness to 11 during his days of marking time…and then slowly evolves into a badass with a heart of gold. Yeah, the overall idea of a character becoming who they were meant to be ain’t new, but Guy adds a fun new polish to this trope. I’m digging it.
It doesn’t hurt that the cast is pitch-perfect. Lil Rel Howery’s Buddy, Guy’s BFF and token “Our World Is Just Fine” dude, switches from deadpan to histrionic easily, reacting to the changes in their world as we viewers probably would. Molotov Girl/Millie is the suitably badass high-level player that catches Guy’s eye, and Jodie Comer does dead-eyed determination with the best of ’em. Of course, as the story progresses these characters wake up and open up, coming together as a true team. Writers Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn do an excellent job of blending off-kilter humor and emotional heartstring-tugging, using just the right amount of each. Plus, I’ve gotta take a minute to fawn over the Inception-meets-Wreck-It Ralph FX. As much as I enjoyed Ready Player One, I much prefer the look of Guy‘s game world.
The soundtrack is used to excellent effect here, with ironic choices being the rule of the day. A big-time throwdown of a fight scene is scored with “Mama” Cass Elliot’s “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. I was howling y’all. The list of songs feels like a slice of the best of late 60s to Aughts jams, and while I know they’re fun and were probably added in for “I LOVE THAT SONG” appeal? I don’t care. They work. And I’ll have that Spotify playlist on repeat until I hate music.
So? Go for the comedy stylings of Mr. Reynolds. Stay for the balls-out physical comedy, and a sweet meditation on what it means to be “alive”. And hit the bathroom before you grab your seat; there are some fun cameos here – a few that are onscreen for just a few seconds – and you won’t wanna miss ’em. Enjoy.
#Protip: There are a slew of cameos here, and I won’t spoil ’em. I walked in blind, and was all the more entertained for it. But I did have to look up a few folks, so I’ll spoil this; fans of YouTube/Twitch gamers will see some familiar faces. And that’s all you’re getting from me, copper.