Funny Games

( 7 )


Notoriously nihilistic filmmaker Michael Haneke revisits one of his most controversial works in this remake of 1997's Funny Games starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. When a family of three arrives at their remote summer cabin for a quiet getaway, the sudden arrival of two psychotic men sets the stage for a harrowing life-or-death struggle that offers savage commentary on the use of violence in entertainment.
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Notoriously nihilistic filmmaker Michael Haneke revisits one of his most controversial works in this remake of 1997's Funny Games starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. When a family of three arrives at their remote summer cabin for a quiet getaway, the sudden arrival of two psychotic men sets the stage for a harrowing life-or-death struggle that offers savage commentary on the use of violence in entertainment.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
The most effective thrillers and horror films are the ones that place sympathetic characters in precarious situations and then make the audience watch helplessly as those characters do everything that the viewer would in order to survive. If we, as an audience, are lucky -- and the filmmaker is only trying to entertain us -- then perhaps one or two of those characters emerge from the conflict alive. On the other hand, if the filmmaker is operating by a different set of rules or trying to deliver a distinct message with his or her film, then the audience might be in for a bit of a rough ride. This said, anyone familiar with the name Michael Haneke knows that by no means is he simply trying to entertain us; Haneke's films are persistently polarizing, consistently challenging, and never forgiving -- and his English-language remake of his own 1997 film Funny Games is as bleak, nihilistic, and as difficult to endure as the original. In the film, a vacationing family arrives at the luxurious summer cottage for a relaxing week of golfing and sailing, only to fall victim to a pair of sadistic tormentors intent on making them take part in a series of disturbing games which will almost certainly end in death. Funny Games is a film about suffering, and while the ill-fated protagonists indeed endure their fare share, the person in the equation who suffers the most is the viewer. From the contrast of soothing classical music against an explosively chaotic John Zorn track during the opening credits sequence -- an otherwise peaceful drive down a scenic country road -- any cognitive thinker will immediately realize that he or she is officially out of the "cinematic safe zone," so to speak. And though Haneke's intentions may initially seem somewhat abstract as he pulls back the reigns and settles into what appears to be by-the-numbers thriller territory, there are moments peppered throughout the film that gradually clue us in to the fact that there's more to these "funny games" than the surface details might suggest. Ironically, it may well be that conservative filmgoers who identify most closely with the filmmaker's observations concerning the issue of violence as entertainment are the same ones who will take the most offense to the manner he uses to express it. And really, who can blame them? It certainly isn't pleasant to watch an otherwise happy family tormented over the course of two hours, though it does make for some interesting food for thought, whether you agree with the director's unique approach or not. Likewise, some may argue that Haneke isn't being sincere in condemning the voyeuristic thrills of violence considering that we've already seen these same games played out onscreen -- in nearly identical fashion -- over a decade ago. To this viewer, at least, it would seem that Haneke wants to ensure that his message has been received by an English-speaking audience. Perhaps, considering how liberally Americans tend to unconditionally accept the role that violence plays in popular entertainment, this second attempt is a noble one. On the other hand, adventurous English-speaking viewers who had already endured the original and received the message are likely to find that Haneke really has nothing new to say here. In terms of performances, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Devon Gearhart are absolutely fearless. Though Roth has the somewhat thankless task of simply grimacing and grunting his way through most of the film, his perceived weakness of character serves well to contrast Watts' more assertive take on the role of the decidedly more protective not to mention proactive mother and wife. While Gearhart has precious little to say in terms of dialogue, his facial expressions speak volumes -- chillingly highlighting the moment in which a child is rudely awakened to the fact that there are forces in this world that even his mom and dad are helpless to fight against. As their tormentors, Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are nightmares dressed in white; a pair of perverse, soft-spoken sadists clad to country-club perfection. It's easy to see why the unsuspecting family would fall into the pair's deadly game, given their deceptive mask of politeness, and once those bleached whites become stained with the blood of the innocent, it's absolutely horrifying to see how far good manners can go in keeping their prey off-balance. That is where Haneke's skills as a true master of tension come into play. The family takes all the cautions that viewers prone to screaming at the screen would likely take, and Haneke takes great care to show us just how easily things could go wrong regardless of this preparedness. It's only later, when Haneke reveals his true intentions by committing the ultimate act of cinematic sadism -- one in which all hope is essentially stripped away -- that we begin to realize that we never really were in thriller territory after all. For those in the audience who are willing to digest this transgression and put their trust in the director, Haneke's unconventional technique will no doubt serve as the fodder for some interesting debate concerning the role that violence plays in media as well as our perceived desensitization to such destructiveness as a society. For viewers who feel cheated and violated by it, well...they're arguably just as justified, though they may take pause and reevaluate their reaction to violence in entertainment once they get over their initial disgust.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/2/2010
  • UPC: 774212105043
  • Original Release: 2007
  • Source: Ais
  • Aspect Ratio: Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Language: English, Fran├žais
  • Time: 1:51:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 21,137

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Naomi Watts Anna Farber
Tim Roth George Farber
Michael Pitt Paul
Brady Corbet Peter
Devon Gearhart Georgie Farber
Boyd Gaines Fred Thompson
Siobhan Fallon Betsy Thompson
Robert LuPone Robert
Linda Moran Eva
Technical Credits
Michael Haneke Director, Screenwriter
Philippe Aigle Executive Producer
Philippe Augle Executive Producer
Rene Bastian Co-producer
Christian Baute Co-producer
Adam Brightman Co-producer
Chris Coen Producer
Kim Hinju Art Director
Urs Hirschbiegel Asst. Director
Darius Khondji Cinematographer
Hamish McAlpine Producer
Linda Moran Co-producer
Andrea Occhipinti Co-producer
Hengameh Panahi Executive Producer, Producer
Johanna Ray Casting
David C. Robinson Costumes/Costume Designer
Jonathan Schwartz Co-producer
Carol Siller Executive Producer
Andro Steinborn Co-producer
Douglas Steiner Executive Producer
Kevin Thompson Production Designer
Tom Varga Sound/Sound Designer
Naomi Watts Executive Producer
Monika Willi Editor
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great film, Hidden message.

    I've heard many complains after talking to people who have watched this movie; "Why didn't the family try to get away? They easily could've?!" "What was up with the guy rewinding part of the movie?" Considering I admittedly asked these questions myself, I looked into the movie a bit further and, after reading a bit about it, it made a lot more sense. In a nutshell, the movie is essentially a commentary on the fact that we, as viewers, seem to take pleasure in watching violence on tv and in movies. The entire film is based around the "killers" and their strong ability to Control the plot and situation (hence the fact that they rewound part of the movie), which is why we never see the family escape, though they had several chances to. While it is quite disturbing, I loved the movie, especially after researching it post-viewing. I'd suggest anyone who is curious to do the same (just hit up good ol' Wikipedia).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    Every moment in this film is intense, even clever little name changes. This film makes Beavis and Butthead, names you never want to hear again. A golf ball, a menace. The phrase Player One, Level Two, an omen. The film moves slow, but you see every emotion of each character transpire into visibility. This is a film with a message, that most people will ignore but it is still a mighty good film.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Funny...

    I remember when this film came out, I had such high hopes and expectations, I was just becoming a big fan of Michael Pitt after I viewed "The Dreamers" and the look of this film along with the story seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. The trailer made this feature seem like it was the next "American Psycho," with the same sick sense of humor and corky psychotic characters. I didn't get to see the film in the theaters since there was only one theater in the entire Phoenix, AZ area playing the feature and it was quite a drive to view it. So I waited for the DVD and special ordered it. Like I said, I had such high hopes. I had not seen the original foreign version of the film, which also confused me, since it's the same story and same director and also released 10yrs before this remake. That didn't make any sense why a director would take a well-praised film and remake it into an american-english version...I don't know. So to me the beginning of the film felt a bit like "The Shining" since our journey starts with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth playing husband and wife while entertaining their young son in the back seat as they drive to their new home. And that's where we meet our little psychotic friends and the story begins to take off. There are good moments in the film, but more bad ones than good. The pace of the film is rather slow, but interesting for an American film, since it does have that Foreign touch. I do think that all the actors did a great job at portraying their characters. Watts and Roth are extremely wonderful at portraying tortured victums with sheer intensity. The problem is just the story doesn't really go anywhere. You're sort of sitting there expecting something to happen and nothing does, then you want to know more about the antagonists, but nothing is revealed, then you want this mind-bending over-the-top ending to save the rest of the film and that never comes. I would say that this film is one of those rare, "looks amazing, but turns out absolutely horrible" films. I probably wouldn't be so bitter if I didn't waste money on buying the DVD. I think this one is only for the real Film Buffs, especially the types that love the underground scene, foreign cinema, or Avant-garde. I usually only review films that I like, but this is one of those rare films that trick the viewer by making it look like some wild thrill ride. So watch at your own risk, Like I said, you'll either like it a lot or hate it with a passion.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Watch the Original

    Just do it. The orginal is always better than the remakes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    'Funny' as in 'Strange', NOY as in 'Ha-Ha'

    FUNNY GAMES is Michael Haneke's English language remake of his own German success from 1997 by the same name. While is takes some interesting twist and turns as far as technique of filmmaking goes, the story lies somewhere between repulsive and prolonged boring, and is not a film this viewer would watch again. We first meet Ann (Naomi Watts), husband George (Tim Roth), and son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) as they drive to their vacation spot playing games of guessing arias and opera singer identities from CDs in their car. But immediately on arriving to their lakeside home they are visited by a strange young lad Peter (Brady Corbet) who asks to borrow eggs for their next-door neighbor. Soon Peter's mishaps are magnified when his friend Paul (Michael Pitt) joins him in a rather preposterous game of arguing over trite situations that result in Peter and Paul (malignantly sterile in appearance in white shorts and shirts and gloves) moving into the 'funny games ' that are aimed at total destruction of Ann, George and Georgie. It is not funny, it is not credible, and yes, it does become annoying in the manner in which the writing for Ann and George makes them into fools for going along with the 'games' as long as they do. Watts and Roth are wasted in this film but Pitt and Corbet manage performances that kick us in the gut - as these oily creatures are meant to do. Not a film to be recommended for general viewing, but one that will please those who love the torture genre. Grady Harp,

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews