If you want to know how rough it’s been for movies in the COVID-era, look no further than 20th Century Studios‘ “Free Guy.”
This movie has been in development for so long, its studio was bought out by Disney before production could even begin. Then, when the film was finally finished, a global pandemic caused its release to be delayed by over 13 months before finally sticking to a confirmed release date.
It may feel like you have been anticipating this film forever, because you probably have been. The studio had every intention of turning the latest film starring Ryan Reynolds into a summer blockbuster, but as this summer has shown, 2021 will go down as the year that 2020 films go to die — and “Free Guy” is sadly no different from the rest.
Like most of Reynolds’ films, this one fails at humor because it attempts to be “Hollywood funny.” Screenwriter Matt Lieberman doesn’t have many notable credits on his resume, and this movie won’t be much of an addition.
The film finds its laughs in two ways: mockery and references. Neither one works in the final product. For a film that is supposed to be relatable to gamers, the script seems to have an odd contempt for them and the industry they enjoy. The characters speak like no gamers you know in real life; instead they are caricatures of how Hollywood producers think gamers talk and act.
When they aren’t rehashing the trope of the gamer who yells at his mother while living in her basement, they throw in cameos of popular Twitch streamers such as Pokimane and DanTDM, who most zoomers know but don’t actually watch.
Waititi is the film’s antagonist, and much like his other movies, he is far less funny than he thinks. The character of Antwan is Pauly Shore-level cringe in his mannerisms and dialogue. It’s like the film is begging you to laugh with him while being as funny as a car wreck.
Not only is the plot convoluted beyond belief but Lieberman’s script attempts to sneak in some woke social commentary in the most sanctimonious ways imaginable. Outside of cameos and IP references, “Free Guy” offers viewers nothing more than a premise that should have been given to a more competent filmmaker.
This film that could have been so much better in the right creative hands, but it drops the ball on a potential gold mine by turning it into another soulless and smug Hollywood venture.