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Geri's Game (1997)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 10,930 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 14 critic

Geri sets up a chess game to play his greatest opponent - himself.

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Title: Geri's Game (1997)

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Geri (voice)
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Storyline

In a park, an old man is playing a game of chess against himself; he's physically moving from side to side as he plays from white to black. As the game progresses, the two sides of himself become individual and distinct players, "white" being the pensive and thoughtful side, "black" being the aggressive hard hitting side. But as the game looks to be coming to a conclusion, white makes a surprisingly aggressive move which could change what looked to be the obvious outcome of the game. Written by Huggo

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25 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El juego de Geri  »

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This is the first Pixar film made after "Knick Knack", which was made 1989. See more »

Goofs

"Nasty" Geri (black) moves a bishop illegally, two squares horizontally to capture a pawn. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A well-played game of chess...
26 May 2004 | by (East Anglia, UK) – See all my reviews

The overwhelming success of such Pixar features as 'Monsters Inc' and 'Finding Nemo' may mean that's where all the attention's currently going, but their four-minute short 'Geri's Game' is definitely an enjoyable and highly original little film that deserves to dwell up there with the company's finest output. On the whole I've been repeatedly impressed with Pixar's animated shorts (perhaps even more so than many of their feature films!), and 'Geri's Game', in which an elderly man enjoys a game of chess with himself, may just be the best I've seen - even amongst such a tight array of gems as 'Knick Knack', 'For the Birds', and the ingeniously simple 'Luxo Jr', there's something about this one that really stands out above the rest. It's breezy and colourful, and the animation is simply excellent - I know that until relatively recently, people have always considered human character designs to have been the weak link in Pixar's digital portfolio (check 'Tin Toy' for example, and contrast the ultra-shiny, believable Tinny with his somewhat chunky human baby nemesis). Well, there's nothing in the least bit awkward or artificial about our title character Geri - he's a very polished creation indeed, with facial expressions all smoothly on target (can't go wrong when you're using Jonathon Harris as your model).

This is of course the very same Geri who showed up soon after as the cleaner in 'Toy Story 2' (I'm not sure if he was actually referred to by name, but he was there, and he even flaunts his trademark chess pieces at one point). I was always intrigued by this mysterious character, and when I discovered that he had a short film of his own I was anxious to see it (too bad it's been regulated to the 'Bug's Life' DVD, which is actually my LEAST favourite Pixar feature - there's irony for you). I finally managed to capture this little diamond on Pixar's own official website and, needless to say, it didn't disappoint.

The quality animation aside, and with the European plaza-style music setting it off to a nifty pulse, it's the slick editing that really makes this concept come alive. Seriously, it's amazing. I'm sure this has been pointed out enough times already, but no matter how obvious Pixar make it that really this is little more than just a bored and lonely old man making the most of his chess set and his seclusion, the way in which it cuts seamlessly between the players on each side of the table will quickly have you believing otherwise. Two very distinctive characters really do appear to emerge from one (think something along the lines of Gollum's personal tête-à-têtes in 'Lord of the Rings', only a lot less sinister in this case).

Unlike other Pixar shorts, including 'Knick Knack' and 'For the Birds', 'Geri's Game' may not be a laugh-riot exactly, but then laugh-out-loud hilarity has never been the essential ingredient for class entertainment. What makes this film so engaging is its intelligent story, gentle humour and truly charming sense of character. The cool visuals are a delightful bonus.

Grade: A+ - Clearly, playing a game of chess on your own can be more enthralling than you'd think.


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