Amidst the craziness of E3, there was the premiere of ‘noobz’. This was the first time a film has premiered at the video game convention. It was screened at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, a short walk from the LA Convention Center where E3 was being held. The red carpet and theater lobby were full of supportive friends, family members, and eager fans. There were also some recognizable celebrities like, Ron Livingston (Office Space), Eion Bailey (Fight Club), and Joshua Gomez (Chuck). Right before the film started, Blake Freeman (the film’s writer, director and lead actor) gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved with the film and the audience for being there and showing their support.
‘noobz’ is the story of two thirty-something gamers, Cody (Blake Freeman) and his best friend Andy (Jason Mewes), and their gamer clan, Reign. There is a Gears of War championship quickly approaching and each member has their own reasons for why they want/need the prize money. After much resistance from Cody, gaming has caused major issues in his marriage, the clan packs up and drives off to Los Angeles for the Championship. Along the way, they pick up their fourth member, Hollywood, whom they had never met in person, and who is not exactly as they had imagined. Finally, they arrive at the competition and prepare to win against their rivals, the Black Assassins. There is a side storyline of an aging gamer, Greg Lipstein (Jon Gries), who was in his prime in the 1980s with old style arcade games. His story interweaves with the Reign clan as the film progresses.
During the championship, the filmmakers provide an engaging way to watch the players compete by splitting the screen into four sections, one for each player. We are able to watch the game play and reactions of the players and come to feel like we are an additional member in the Reign clan. One memorable moment during the film is when Cody (Freeman), has a witty and sarcastic exchange with a young girl on the way to Los Angeles. It was entertaining to watch a grownup have an intelligent, if not somewhat hostile, conversation with a spunky kid. Not surprisingly, this bonding is misinterpreted with comedically painful results. Another scene is especially hilarious for anyone who has worked at a game/video rental store. Cody goes to see Andy (Mewes) at his job at video game store to vent, but then an obnoxious customer comes in claiming his game is broken. It is broken…into multiple pieces, but he wants his money back because he could not play the game. Andy does not give into the customer because he is clearly trying to scam the store. Andy turns out to be the store manager and is able to tell that customer off, and Cody’s harsh words send the customer out of the store with his broken game and no refund.
The film primarily deals with the world of online console gaming. The film does a good job of being a video game movie that even the novice gamer, or non-gamer can understand and enjoy. It definitely has an indie feel but that adds to the mood of the film. The humor is at times fairly stupid or just plain awkward, but nonetheless it is an entertaining film. Early on, the film deals with the issue of how excessive game play can damage or ultimately ruin a couple’s relationship. As many gamers know, this is a common real life scenario, so it was poignant to see the ramifications of excessive game play. One of the positive themes is the strong bond between members of each clan. They are friends online as well as in person though they do touch upon the possibility of misrepresentation online. Greg (Gries) carries the theme of older gamers with arcade style games versus young console gamers. They do not go into PC versus console though, which could probably be a whole other movie. There is an arcade tournament at the same time as the Gears of War Championship, but it is treated as a far less important event. Everyone at the arcade tournament seems to be in their forties or older. The console tournament is the complete opposite, which is filled with mainly young people in their teens and twenties. Cody and Andy’s ages are mocked by their extremely young rivals.
‘noobz’ is an amusing look at a specific section of the gaming world. Non-gamers will still enjoy the friendship, road trip and competitive aspects of the film. While gamers will appreciate the inside jokes and get more out of the game play scenes. If the attendees of E3 are any indication of the many types of gamers out there, age is not necessarily a restriction with gamers. It may affect the types of games they might enjoy though. Personally, the film is not exceptionally funny but it does have its moments.
‘noobz’ will be coming to theaters in the fall. Blake Freeman promoted another of his films, ‘Gawd Bless America’ by showing the trailer before the film. He mentioned it is a documentary/comedy by the same crew that worked on ‘noobz’. It is also scheduled to be released later this year.