Film Review – Funny Games
Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997) is a film about a family enjoying their vacation lake home. They get set up in their home for a short stay and some friends of the neighbor’s come to visit. Things go south quickly.
The film starts out with a German family driving through the country pulling a sailboat. Anna, Georg (Ulrich Mühe from The Lives of Others), little Georg, and Rolfi the dog. They’re playing a game where you guess which song the other is playing on the CD player in the car. It’s mainly classical music, but when they roll the opening credits, there’s this insane screamy metal playing. Very weird opening to a movie.
The family drives past their uncle’s house and yells for help with the sailboat in a few minutes. Their vacation home is right next door to their uncle’s house, so it isn’t a huge deal. Uncle Fred is acting a bit strange when he arrives to help put the sailboat in the water. Uncle Fred is acting REALLY weird when he shows up at the family’s house with an equally weird boy to help with the boat. The weird boy is wearing white gloves that don’t get explained. Even the son asks why uncle Fred is acting so weird. And Rolfi keeps barking at all of them—the dog is clearly feeling something’s off.
Then, out of the blue, another creepy weird boy shows up from Uncle Fred’s house to ask for eggs; this is Peter. He’s super creepy and also wearing white gloves. The kid drops the eggs he is borrowing and the mom cleans up the mess while he looks around the house all shifty-like. Then the kid “accidentally” knocks the house phone into the sink of water, knocking it out of commission. Paul shows up and asks if he can try out the Georg’s golf club. Paul disappears with the golf club and the dog is going crazy, then suddenly, the dog isn’t barking. Paul tells Anna to give the eggs to Tom—the wrong name. Paul then smacks Georg with the golf club. Oh buddy, it is ON. The two creepy boys are playing a game with the family and it isn’t a fun one (well, it isn’t fun for the family, anyway).
The shifty boys decide to bet with the family. Peter and Paul are betting the family will be dead in 12 hours—Anna and Georg are betting they’ll be alive in 12 hours. Peter and Paul grab the little boy and put a pillowcase over his head and get the mom to strip. This game is going poorly for the family, if you hadn’t noticed. The kid tries to escape but Paul captures him again, along with a shotgun. Things get really messy here. A lot of the action appears off camera, so you’re only hearing crashing and screams and such. But you can tell things are not going well for the family.
The whole time, Pater and Paul remain extremely calm and matter of fact. They’re having fun, but it’s a very subdued kind of fun, since they apparently excel at head games and terrorism. The whole movie is really dark—both lighting and plot. Nothing good is coming from these two painfully prim and proper boys visiitng the neighbor’s house. It’s a nightmare. The movie is generally pretty intense; however, when Paul looks at the camera and actually talks to the audience—asking them if they’ve had enough and then winking—it ruins the whole feel of the scene.
The movie is really long and probably even feels longer than it is. Parts of it are good, but the flow is off. About halfway through the movie, I thought it was all over with, but realized it was less than an hour in, so it wasn’t going to be over anytime soon. The intensity and peaks and valleys seemed a bit off, even for a German film. Right at the end of the movie, it becomes a stupid Adam Sandler movie. I’d love to ruin the ending of this movie for you, but the movie sort of ruins itself. If you are brave enough to watch this movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s asinine. Don’t waste your time (like I did).
Final Grade: D