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"I don't care about the money. I'm pulling back the curtain. I want to meet the wizard."
The Game is a movie centered around Nicholas van Orton (Michael Douglas), a bored, disillusioned businessman who spends his days in his office (complete with shower). His life is extremely well-ordered -- he has even driven out all romantic prospects (including one marriage) -- until the day his brother Conrad (Sean Penn) gives him a gift certificate for a group called Consumer Recreation Services that livens up their customers' lives by playing a potentially-dangerous game with them.
Nicholas, intrigued by this, signs up for one of the company's games -- and soon finds himself threatened to the point of death by a group that possibly has some ulterior motives regarding his money...
This movie contains examples of:
- All Is Well That Ends Well
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: "I was drugged and left for dead in Mexico - and all I got was this stupid T-shirt".
- Book Safe: Douglas's character keeps a revolver hidden in a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.
- Which CRS knew about and loaded with blanks.
- Chekhov's Army: A major theme in the film, revealed in the cafeteria scene in which every extra is revealed to have been a part of the game.
- Driven to Suicide: Possibly Nicholas's father. And later in the movie the trope is subverted with Nicholas himself.
- Foreshadowing: After despairing to Nicholas, sobbing and crying, Conrad has a huge grin on his face when Nicholas leaves, which is a huge hint that the entire game is just that, a harmless game.
- I'm Not a Doctor But I Play One on TV: Douglas discovers the CRS representative is an actor when he sees him doing a drug commercial on TV. Which is Hilarious in Hindsight, since the actor who plays the actor playing the rep (James Rebhorn) is frequently a source of Hey, It's That Guy! in real life, most recently on White Collar.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: Douglas spends most of the movie trying to figure out if it's a scam. (Averted.)
- Mind Screw: It’s almost impossible to figure out when the game begins or ends, who is in on it, how many people are in on it, and many other things.
- Not My Driver: Douglas steps into a cab that's subsequently driven into water.
- Pleasure Island: At least until the very end.
- Scary Surprise Party: Many twists and turns finally lead to a surprise party (and a hefty bill).
- Shockingly Expensive Bill
- Shout-Out: The page quote is one to The Wizard of Oz (when Dorothy finds out that the god-like ruler of Emerald City is a mere human behind a curtain).
- Skirts and Ladders
- Soft Glass: It's breakable, but can still cut.
- Staged Shooting
- The Picture Came with the Frame: Suspecting that Christine is a CRS plant, Nicolas opens the picture frames on the walls of her apartment, and finds the pictures are cut from magazines.
- The Un-Reveal: It's never revealed how much the game cost. We just see Nick and Conrad stunned over the cost at the very end, with Nick offering to spit the bill.
- Vapor Wear: When Trapped In An Elevator with waitress Christine, Nicholas asks her to crawl out the roof hatch. An embarrassed Christine reveals she's reluctant to do this because she's not wearing any underwear. With her short skirt. Given what happens later, this is likely deliberate so as to mess with the protagonist's head.
- We do see later that she was wearing a bra, so that is probably true.
- Xanatos Roulette: Consumer Recreation Services' business model. They must hire exceptionally good actors / roleplayers / grifters.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: There is no way in hell that CRS could account for every single contingency, so it's quite possible they simply improvised for the ones they couldn't handle. Guiding him down the right paths was part of Christine's job.