Free Guy (2021)
Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, and Taika Waititi
Plot: A NPC from a video game gains sentience when he meets the woman of his dreams.
Review: Ok. Let me be real with you. I honestly don’t know how to start this review. Actually, I barely even know how to write this review. Because, I don’t know what tone to take at all. I don’t want to be too negative, because Free Guy doesn’t deserve to be shat on in that way. It’s a charming enough summer blockbuster. But, if I walked in here praising it, that wouldn’t feel authentic either, because I didn’t think it was that good either. I’m definitely not on the 83% Rotten Tomatoes or 7.7 (!) IMDB hype train. Those guys need to settle down in my opinion. It’s a perfectly fine, dumb way to kill two hours on a summer evening. That’s about it.
My main criticism with Free Guy is that I just could not give two shits about the plot. I loved the concept of a NPC coming to life and the reason behind it and all of that. But, that’s more of a starting point and not the actual plot. There’s a whole storyline about a big evil video game company, some stolen code, and a quest to retrieve it to help a lawsuit that I just did not care about at all. And what’s worse is that they treat it like it’s the biggest deal in the world. There are clips from the outside world where everyone is invested in this story. Disney even pushed their weight around to get a Good Morning America cameo where they covered the story. Do you know how little the actual news cares about video games? The latest big story in games was the Blizzard harassment scandal and I guarantee that not one major news show covered anything about it. Gaming is so far down on their list of priorities it’s not even funny. But, I digress. The point is that even though I did care about these characters, even I couldn’t be bothered to root for them all that much. Let alone the entire world when it’s literally a video game character. There were also too many instances where I thought “This is literally The Lego Movie” or “That feels a tad Wreck-It Ralph-ish” for me to ever buy into this being all that original of a concept.
Yet, every time I was ready to completely write Free Guy off, I would be won back over by it’s charm. Because there’s no way you can sit through this movie without laughing and smiling most of the time. That’s what happens when you put such a delightful cast into such a pleasing scenario. Even when a lot of the jokes seemed to be trying way too hard (and, trust me, some do) they still got a chuckle out of me. These guys are just naturally funny and the movie takes advantage of that really well. Ryan Reynolds, especially, is at peak lovability here. This is definitely one of his better roles. I’d put it right below Deadpool and the completely underrated The Voices. Jodie Comer and Joe Keery also give completely adorable performances as the little indie developers going against the gigantic corporation. In fact, I’d say the entire cast does a terrific job (with the possible expectation of a slightly too over the top Taika Waititi). I liked all of these characters. I liked this world. I liked a lot of the jokes. I just wish they were all in a better movie.
So, overall, did I like Free Guy? I don’t know. I’m still very mixed on it. There were parts I loved and then parts I completely hated, leaving me with a sort of whatever feeling about the whole experience. But, I would say that I’d give it a recommendation. Because this movie is a good time and I seem to be one of the only people that had problems with it. I’d hate to be the one person standing in the way of other’s happiness. And, honestly, there’s part of me that thinks I might be a bit too harsh on this. I don’t know. As you can probably tell, I’m all over the place with Free Guy. I wish I had a better grasp on how I feel about it.
TL;DR: With a forgettable plot and charming cast, Free Guy is dumb, but it’s also dumb fun.
Score: 6/10 (Ok)