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Bound together by a desire to play "Mazes and Monsters," Robbie and his four college classmates decide to move the board game into the local legendary cavern. Robbie starts having visions for real, and the line between reality and fantasy fuse into a harrowing adventure. Written by
Rone Barton Lokarr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Frilik! Aren't you dead? Didn't you die when you leapt into the pit? It IS you, Frilik, you have been restored to the living! Whoever did that is a great holy man, a greater holy man even than I.
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I didn't even know this was originally a made-for-tv movie when I saw it, but I guessed it through the running time. It has the same washed-out colors, bland characters, and horrible synthesized music that I remember from the 80's, plus a 'social platform' that practically screams "Afterschool special". Anyhoo.
Rona Jaffe's (thank you) Mazes and Monsters was made in the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons, a pen-and-paper RPG that took the hearts of millions of geeks around America. I count myself one of said geeks, tho I have never played D&D specifically I have dabbled in one of its brethren. M&M was also made in the heyday of D&D's major controversy-that it was so engrossing that people could lose touch with reality, be worshiping Satan without knowing, blah blah. I suppose it was a legitimate concern at one point, if extremely rare-but it dates this movie horrendously.
We meet 4 young college students, who play the aptly named Mazes and Monsters, to socialize and have a little time away from mundane life. Except that M&M as presented is more boring than their mundane lives. None of the allure of gaming is presented here-and Jay Jay's request to take M&M into 'the real world' comes out of nowhere. It's just an excuse to make one of the characters go crazy out of nowhere also-though at that point we don't really care. Jay Jay, Robbie, Kate and Daniel are supposed to be different-but they're all rich WASPy prigs who have problems no one really has.
But things just continue, getting worse in more ways than one. The low budget comes dreadfully clear, (I love the 'Entrance' sign and cardboard cutout to the forbidden caverns) Robbie/Pardu shows why he's not a warrior in the oafiest stabbing scene ever, and the payoff atop the 'Two Towers' is unintentionally hilarious. Tom Hanks' blubbering "Jay Jay, what am I doing here?" made me laugh for minutes on end. Definitely the low point in his career.
Don't look at it as a cogent satire, just a laughable piece of 80's TV trash, and you'll still have a good time. That is, if you can stay awake. The majority is mostly boring, but it's all worthwhile for Pardu's breakdown at the end. At least Tom Hanks has gotten better. Not that he could go much worse from here.
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