“Free Guy” (Rated T)
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery, Taika Waititi
Where to watch: In theaters
Yummy! Ultimate supreme pizza – piled so high with toppings, you feel your biceps and triceps twitch when attempting just to pick up one slice.
And you practically have to dislocate your jaw in order to get your mouth around a piece, with all that dough, crust and cheese and every single thing you could ever conceive of putting on a pizza. It’s like every meal you should have in one day rolled into one.
The new film “Free Guy” feels like the cinematic equivalent of ultimate supreme pizza, with several movies and TV shows from the past few years all in one.
Here’s the premise: When Guy, a bank teller (Ryan Reynolds), discovers he’s actually a background player in an open-world video game, he decides to become the hero of his own story – one that he can rewrite himself. In a world where there are no limits, he’s determined to save the day his way before it’s too late, and maybe find a little romance with the coder (Jodie Comer) who conceived him.
So, yes, that sounds like “The Truman Show” (1998) with Jim Carrey, who didn’t know that his life was a TV show watched by millions.
And it’s reminiscent of HBO’s wacky TV series “Westworld”, in which amusement park automatons become sentient and decide to rebel (quite violently) against their wicked human creators.
And the video game aspects bring to mind “Ready Player One” (2018) and “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012).
Plus, there’s action, loads of special effects, and a love story. “Free Guy” has got everything. Particularly if you’re a gamer (and a “Grand Theft Auto” fan), this is likely to be a really pleasant experience.
The effervescent Reynolds is the perfect choice as Guy. As always, his comic timing and effortless delivery and humor can help elevate even the most ridiculous picture (he tried his best with this year’s “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”, but even Reynolds couldn’t save that nonsense).
His performance here is the most enjoyable part of the whole movie, and he’s complemented nicely by Emmy-winner Jodie Comer (TV’s “Killing Eve”).
Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”) is the highlight of the supporting cast, along with a highly amusing cameo from Channing Tatum.
Unfortunately, actor/director Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”) as the cartoonish, annoying and over-the-top villain Antoine, and a slightly convoluted plot involving his character’s underhanded practices in the gaming industry, along with the bizarre efforts required to stop his shenanigans, conspire to sap some of the energy from the story. And some of the romantic elements may induce gagging.
Despite this, “Free Guy” is most often a good time – funny and fun. Just like a pizza party! But just remember, you can have an equally great time with pizza just by reducing some of that fatty meat and easing up on all that cheese.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.