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deeply disturbing art horror film but definitely not for everyone
Roland E. Zwick20 December 2008
Watching "Funny Games" is a bit like coming across a major accident on the highway - you know you should continue driving on past the scene, but you just can't keep yourself from slowing down and gawking at all the wreckage.

The premise of the story does not sound very promising at first, as the idea, or a simple variation of it, has served as the foundation for countless such films in the past: an innocent family of three is held hostage in their home by a couple of sadistic killers who systematically abuse and terrorize their victims for their own twisted pleasure.

So many horror movies are predictable and formulaic that it's a pleasant surprise to come across one that actually makes an effort to break free of its bonds and make its own way in the world. And, indeed, "Funny Games" busts through the horror movie conventions with an almost ruthless determination. In this Americanized version of a film he made in his native Austria in 1997, director Michael Haneke scrupulously avoids obvious camera setups and editing techniques, bypassing virtually every storytelling, visual or audio cliché endemic to the genre. There is no background music, for instance, to cue us into the scary moments, no screeching cats jumping out of the shadows, and no point-of-view shots designed to generate easy suspense. Unlike in most films of this type, the violence here happens in an entirely haphazard and random manner, making it all the more frightening in its unpredictability and plausibility. Haneke refuses to cater to the expectations of his audience, making them face the reality of the nightmare he's showing them rather than giving them what it is they may want to see.

Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are cringe-worthy and terminally creepy as the smarmy psychopaths who get their jollies out of watching other people suffer, while Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Devon Gearhart engage our full sympathy as the hapless victims who have come up against the blank wall of two twisted minds they are woefully unequipped to even understand, let alone wage battle against.

This is one of the most memorable and artful horror films of recent times, but it is also one of the most unnerving and difficult to watch. The movie gets into your bones, no matter how much your better angels may be telling you to keep it out. It's depressing and disturbing and is certainly not intended for all audiences, but it is a movie that it is very difficult to shake off once you've given yourself over to it.
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A collection of old tricks and new ones that don't work
Matthew Landis26 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly let us say that the movie was well made and the production value was never an issue. The plot does not offend any more than it tries to, and that this style of film making has a place in the consumer market, which should not alarm.

The pacing is well crafted. Yes, it is very slow, suffer-ably so which is the point. The viewer is almost forced to catch every detail. But this is nothing new. Films like High Tension (2003) amongst others use it to better effect.

The shocking nature of the film or rather the intended shock value was present but the actual depiction of violence is absent. Another technique that has been used many times and often better.

It is not that every movie should use or create new techniques as that is an impossibility, however if a film is to rely solely on these techniques it would be best to do so in a less predictable manner and executed with some craftsmanship.

Then there is the scene where the evil duo lose control of the situation only to have the main antagonist use a seemingly random television remote control to rewind real life there by defeating the hero and heroin upon a second attempt. This removes any hope this viewer may have had in the protagonists survival. It also removes the viewer from the moment. This occurs right when the viewer thinks an major plot shift might finally take place.

The "rewind" is never explained and only hinted at in a conversation between the two antagonists in disjointed conversation and adds nothing to the film.

If you, as a movie enthusiast, enjoy tension, oddity, and emotional suffering depicted in great detail then you may enjoy this movie.
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You might hate it or love it but everyone should give this a chance
Bigbang2 April 2009
One way to get the most out of Funny Games is to have your expectations open before watching it. It's not a standard horror film aiming to fulfill your needs as a viewer. It's about horror films and us, the audience who gets pleasure from suffering as entertainment. It shows what real horror might look like in an awful situation, and how it psychologically debilitates and paralyzes the people involved.

Although this is almost identical and I liked this remake, I prefer the 1997 Austrian original version. It was one of the most disturbing and effective films I've ever seen. Here the acting is good especially from one of the best actresses out there Naomi Watts, but somehow the original works better. Maybe it was Arno Frisch, who played the main bad guy in the original, an absolutely ice cold character. Arno played it so well, there was a threatening menace underneath the polite and clean-cut exterior. Michael Pitt in this U.S. Version doesn't quite have that, but even so I still think he does well.

One possible flaw that I agree with others is the family seemed too passive. In the beginning the two bad guys are armed with only a golf club. Naomi Watt's, who is in amazing shape at 40, looked like she might have done something more to get out of it. However, an argument can be made that the family reacted realistically because they were portrayed as rich, docile people who listened to classical music and went boating. People who are not violent and erroneously think everyone, even these two sick guys, have a better nature they can appeal to by simply saying "why don't you just leave us alone and go?" They've been sheltered from people who are simply evil and lack empathy and just don't give a sh*t. Their comfortable existence has been shattered and they don't know how to react. We're so used to Hollywood b.s. where everyone is a hero and fights back and we all cheer and go home. Yeah that's entertaining too but we've seen that a million times already. Maybe some people would be paralyzed out of fear like this family. Either way, I was willing to put their passiveness aside because everything else in the film was done so well.

The original right now has a rating of 7.7 at IMDb and many glowing reviews, yet this U.S version is a lot lower at 6.4 and many b*tching and moaning 1 star reviews. Not to sound condescending, but maybe people who watch subtitled non-English films are more accepting of weird, offbeat films that don't follow conventional Hollywood style dialogue, plot and presentation, and they're more open to this movies style of direction, like the very long takes of people just sitting there in misery. I'm not stupid enough to say one has to like this film, I get annoyed at some indie type films and their quirkiness myself, but some of the 1 star reviewers sound like a bunch of crybabies.

Funny Games slaps you in the face and taunts you and it rarely gives in to what you need as a viewer, and that may be frustrating at times but at least it's something different.
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Peter Stawicki18 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Funny Games US is a motion picture study of two young psychopaths and the pain, suffering, and ends they inflict. In the end it gives just one line that justifies what actually took place and that line was unable to make me not feel like I had wasted 2 hours of my life.

The characters are cardboard. The length of the film is excessive. In the end you care about no one involved and you are left feeling the conclusion (though there really is none) is totally unsatisfactory.

The violence contained in the film is never shown though the effects of the violence and its remnants are displayed prominently.

My belief is that the director was trying to show how passé we now find violence and even goes an extra step to show bare sexuality (there is no nudity in the movie) against the back drop of the violence to allow the audience to judge their own "arousal factors" and how close they are to violence.

But no matter what the directors intention, the product was without merit. I would recommend not watching the film. Not even when suffering from extreme sleeplessness in hopes that this might lull you into a restful slumber - trust me it won't.

Tim Roth is wasted with very little dialog. Naomi Watts is wasted though she is able to show a great deal of emotion and is used for her looks as an arousal tool. And the best showing was the actor who played their son who showed a great deal of stage like visual emotion. Bravo.

I was being nice when I gave this two stars - Watch at your own peril and remember you'll never be able to reclaim the two hours of your life.
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Why bad reviews for this movie can't win
acutezza23 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
One of the hardest parts about reviewing an 'art house' type movie is inherent in the genre's name: it's a lot like criticizing art. And if you've ever tried to criticize modern art, or almost any art, you're probably familiar with some brutal rebuttals and denials. The same is true for these 'art house' type movies. It's a lot easier to give the movie a good review and go, but bad reviews draw a lot more fire. This is harder for me as well, because I typically love these types of movies.

But I did not enjoy this movie--and I don't mean in the general 'it didn't make me happy' sense. I mean it in the 'had little value, emotionally or artistically' sense. Depending on how you're looking at it, there were many ways in which the movie could have gained merit--you could look at the performance of the actors, the entertainment of the plot itself, the tension or suspense, the message or theme. It tried very hard, but I don't think that it was able to live up to any of its expectations.

The most important aspect of this film when judging it is meant to be unconventional. It breaks film-making conventions and denies the audience's expectations over and over. For example, it breaks the fourth wall quite a few times--meant to be a punch in the gut for the audience as they are acknowledged as participants in the film. It denies the audience's expectation of gore by making almost all the violence occur off-screen, leaving only sound effects. Although the movie fulfills its aims in its unconventionality, what we are left with when all the conventions are broken is only the shell of a great movie. The over-the-top experience is gut-wrenching and terrifying, but that is the only real effect you are left with. The movie sucks one in by being unconventional, but the movie made a mistake in that it aimed to be unconventional without having a clear idea of what to do after convention was broken. The movie just seems to wander around, dragging a great premise through the dirt.

Another criticism of the movie comes from the intentions of the movie's plot. This movie--and its director, based on his real-life comments on his purpose in remaking a film shot-for-shot--is, in a word, pretentious. Haneke himself states that "It is a reaction to a certain American Cinema, its violence, its naïveté, the way it toys with human beings" (The Village Voice). Already there lies pretentiousness in the idea of remaking your own movie only ten years after the original, with practically the only change being the language. Already you're assuming that Americans will actually watch your movie just because it's in English, and on top of that, you're assuming that the bourgeois depiction of the 'victims' would be more fitting in American theaters. Then, you're saying that the violence message is more fitting in American theaters. I'll go ahead and dissect why all this pretentiousness bears no redeeming fruit.

First point: American cinema is more focused on and condoning of violence than other countries' cinema. This point is already rendered practically untestable by the fact that there is no movie industry in the world that is quite comparable to Hollywood. Most industries are much smaller, and even the most comparable industry in terms of size (Bollywood) is not a fair comparison due to drastically different genre and stylistic focus. The established industry of film in America has the negative side effects of allowing low-quality and low-standards movies to be produced and distributed on a massive scale, as long as it provides a hook to entice consumers. The amount of violence in Hollywood is highly overemphasized, and is inevitable in the industry due to its inevitable hook. Also, these movies do fairly well in other countries (in terms of box office), suggesting that it's not strictly an American issue.

Second point: The bourgeois characteristic of the characters is more appropriate in American theaters. Although there are plenty of yuppies, brownnosers, and bourgeois in America, I think it's unfair to say the bourgeois appearances of the characters are more of an American feature than German, or French, or English, whatever developed country you like. It's a common human attribute, a longing to move up in life, and enjoying a higher standard of living--not something I agree with, but everyone's seen it in action. Both this point, and the previous one, simply show a narrow-minded judgment on the part of the director.

And the most, MOST important point to why this film did nothing for me: The film delivers a message about violence, especially in regards to middle/upper-class culture. This movie said nothing of importance to me. If you want to find a message like this, look at Clockwork Orange. There is no denying that Clockwork Orange effectively conveys a message about violence and morality in the modern world. This movie was looking and looking to make a point about violence, something about how watching violence and indulging in violent movies is akin to the violence itself. It got halfway there in that it drew the audience into the experience and almost created a sense of guilt. But it was unable to go much further. It did not even justify a nihilistic view, because the way in which the movie was made, especially the semi-surrealism of the actual events and the 'rewind' feature, at least reveals intent in creating a point. It circles round and round and ends up no where at all.

I would call this movie avant-garde if it actually made any impact on me. A film can seek to chase beauty, tell a story, delight viewers, convey a message, play on a theme, or invoke an emotion, but when a film does none of these it loses its value as a piece of art. And this is exactly where Funny Games ends up.
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Axel-923 October 2007
When I heard Michael Haneke was re-making Funny Games in America I wondered why: what purpose could it possibly serve? The set-up to both versions is simple in that a bourgeois family is subjected to a torturous ordeal by a couple of ever so polite psychopaths. Moreover, like the original the re-make is a cruel exercise in exposing our fascination with the violence depicted in the media - the "our" specifically meaning the middle classes, comfortable in our existences and oblivious to the horrors of the world.

However, Haneke is on record as saying that he always considered Funny Games to be an "American story", as he regarded the use of violence as a form of entertainment to be a specifically American phenomenon. No matter that this is a bit of a flawed viewpoint: having the aggressors seem straight out of the O.C. gives the impact of their sadistic actions an even more discomfiting air. Michael Pitt (charismatic and barbarous) and Brady Corbett (seemingly dopey but utterly vicious) are both excellent, but their performances leave one feeling a bit um "seen it all before".

Which takes me back to my first thought: what is the point? Cosmetics aside this is exactly the same film, right down to the assumption that the well to do like to listen to classical music and that the audience may be unsettled by playing them some thrash metal. Haneke even has Pitt address the camera and manipulate the film, so re-using the trick about playing with reality and focusing the viewer on what actually counts as real. It is just that this playing around does not carry the impact it did 10 years ago.

In fact, due to the unconventional nature of the film and the vast disparity it offers with reality it's hard to care much at all. Yes what happens is horrible, but it does not feel at all real. I'm waiting for someone to point out that, that is Haneke's point, but frankly, I don't care. No amount of intellectualising can make this watchable.

You would think Haneke would know better too. His most recent film Hidden took a genre film and flipped it about to deliver one of the most surprising and intellectually challenging thrillers of the decade. By stringing the audience along and offering some sense of catharsis and understanding of character motivation he offered a way in. Funny Games U.S. offers no such intrigue or tension and is ultimately a big step backward. He may see it as an American story, but it worked better as a small Austrian film, set in anywheres-ville Europe.
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A cliché ridden slasher movie dressed up in art house clothing
mickran5 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm afraid I learned nothing from this movie. It isn't a smart satire on the detached upper middle classes and how they put up a gate between themselves and the violent world outside. It isn't a dark comedy of manners. It's really just a slow paced slasher movie promoting and celebrating mindless violence for entertainment. It has about as much social significance as I Know What You Did Last Summer. I particularly despise the use of killing a child for nothing more than shock value. If you are distracted by the art house aesthetic and use of cinematic and audio editing techniques and don't agree then I'd like to present the classic horror/slasher/suspense scenario for your consideration.

Spoiler: One of the victims escapes the clutches of the psychos and runs into the deserted neighbourhood only to flag down a vehicle driven by - yes you guessed it, one of the psychos who brings her straight back to the house where she was originally imprisoned. It's played a little differently as he isn't the driver of the first car she sees but it's the same tired old trite cliché you've seen before so many times.

As for the excruciatingly predictable ending, I really could have written the last line myself half way through the movie, (sealed in in an envelope and posted it to myself and it would have been delivered before the end of the movie which felt like forever in arriving). And it has one of those endings that you think to yourself 'is that is?' And unfortunately 'that is it'. A movie about two motiveless two dimensional psycho killers with no explanation or conclusion to satisfy the viewer. It addresses the issue of violence and its affects on an ineffectual society just about as much as the latest Rambo movie does. It seeks to do so and aims but misses by a mile. Just glossy violence and nothing more.
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Zero value here
NewFreedomRider30 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Funny Games" follows the adventures of two politely psychopathic young men who prey on families in their vacation homes.

During the course of this film, a family of three is captured, bound and tortured in various ways; finally all are killed. The husband and 8 year boy old die by shotgun; the wife dies by drowning, tied and pushed from a sailboat into a lake.

The film veers between bizarre narrative interaction between the young murderers and the audience and the completely illogical behavior of the family. It's almost impossible to set aside your disbelief for this scenario.

The main thrust is to reiterate again and again that human beings are either mindlessly psychotic animals, or stupid dolts begging for destruction; and to do this in a "art school" way that makes the movie largely unwatchable.

With that being said, this movie is not recommended for anyone. It is a sick film which is far, far worse for the human psyche than any XXX pornography. "Funny Games" is simply the twisted expression of an irresponsible filmmaker. The movie is without any positive features whatsoever.

Self-indulgent junk.
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An intriguing exercise in copying one's self.
radiohed-122 October 2007
I saw this at the London Film Festival and found it to be exactly what I expected: an English-language facsimile by Michael Haneke of his 1997 German film of the same title. Not that this is a bad thing. It is a testament to Haneke's artistic ability to replicate perfectly his previous film shot-by-shot with equal effect, tension, and intrigue even as one knows what to expect--although it might also say something about Haneke's ego that he doesn't feel that he needed to change or add new material for audiences who've already seen the original. The performances are overall well-executed, especially by Naomi Watts, an actress who has proved that she will still take risks despite the fact that she has made it both in the art-house scene and in mainstream Hollywood.

Haneke wanted to replicate the original film for American audiences since he has considered the story closer culturally to American society. That is a noble effort, but I am not sure if it required him to remake an exact replica of one of his earlier works, nor am I sure that it will have quite the impact he wants since the American audiences he is targeting might avoid it all together (as it might be seen as too art-house or extreme) or be completely turned off by its content and artistic approach. Nonetheless, it is interesting to witness as an exercise in a film artist revisiting his earlier work, even if he didn't bother changing anything.
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Funny Games (2008) Movie Review
GoneWithTheTwins15 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Back in 1997 director Michael Haneke made Funny Games, a disturbing and thought-provoking thriller that toys with the viewer's place as a voyeur. In 2008, the re-make, also directed by Haneke, debuts with an all new cast and this time in English. The problem is that it is essentially a shot-for-shot, line-for-line, verbatim re-shoot. This makes watching this film pointless if you've seen the original, or unnecessary to watch the original if you're planning on seeing the 2008 version. And despite those pesky subtitles that often upset American audiences, the original's authenticity and casting is surprisingly superior. Anne (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) arrive at their vacation home ready to enjoy some golf and sailing with their son (Devon Gearhart) and neighbors. As Anne is unpacking groceries, she is confronted by two young men, dressed in golf attire, and wearing white gloves. Thinking nothing of their politeness and harmless asking for eggs, explaining that the neighbors ran out of cooking materials, Anne immediately helps them. But when the two boys begin obviously antagonizing her, she realizes that their family is about to be taken hostage for a terrifying night of anything but "funny" games. The same opening overhead shot of a car (this time an SUV) driving down a desolate highway while the family inside plays a game of guessing opera tunes, opens the film. The same opera pieces are used, the same title sequence and the same ear-piercing abstract death metal. The film is undoubtedly disturbing, unique and white-knuckle suspenseful, but if you've seen the original, there's nothing new. The breed of dog changed, along with the style of phone (from mobile to cellular), but the house's white gate looks almost completely identical, and the kitchen and all of its seemingly random decorations are all a perfect match. Georg and Anna have been altered to their American counterparts George and Anne, and some of the original translations have been reinterpreted (such as fatty to tubby and cheeky to rude). What makes this remake only slightly more successful than Gus Van Sant's famously horrendous turn with Hitchcock's Psycho is that Funny Games was never that well known. Taking what many believe to be one of the greatest films of all time (Psycho) and re-doing it scene for scene is so utterly pointless, it's a wonder the idea was ever even carried out. At least with Funny Games the reasons are more coherent. Making a German film more accessible for American audiences through the use of English speaking actors isn't entirely inane. Devoid of an omniscient soundtrack and played out to feel like real-time, the events of this one freakish night is quite a distressingly entertaining ordeal. Regardless of the superiorities that are evident in the original, this version isn't without its shock value and thought-provoking commentary on voyeurism and violence. But with its unexpectedly appalling conclusion, bizarre plot twists and the unexplainable interference with the "fourth wall" (a.k.a. having characters talk directly to the audience), Funny Games may very well be a film that could never have been truly accepted by American audiences in the first place. - The Massie Twins
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Sick - Sick Director - Sick Lovers Of This Debasement of Life
radiotesla200127 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I knew there was something seriously wrong with this film after about 5 minutes of the home invasion. I knew that I was rooting for the family to crush the excrement that the antagonists were. I also suspected that my wish was not going to be satisfied. I turned off the movie well before the first of the family members were murdered, and found my answers here. I will never watch another second of this movie again.

I 'get' the point. I simply do not agree with it.

Instead of wishing the family to survive, I wish for the director to painlessly drool himself into a coma. It is what he deserves. He is not 'teaching' us anything.

The movie is sick.

The lovers of this movie are sick.

Avoid it at all costs. You have been warned. 0 out of 10. Negative numbers should be allowed to be applied to filth such as this film.
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The Haneke Factor
M. J Arocena25 August 2009
The masochist side to my personality saw both versions of Michael Haneke's "Funny Games" and like them. Well "like" may not be the right word but let me tell you that I couldn't shake those images out of my mind for days. It happened the same with Haneke's last film "The White Ribbon" as well as with "Cache" and in particular with "The Piano Teacher" I'm fascinated by Michael Haneke but I don't trust him. I'm aware of his brilliance just as aware as he is. There is a self consciousness about his work that strips it of any form of innocence. That's very disturbing. Luis Bunuel felt triumphant when people fainted or vomited during his films but, in his case, it was clear where he was coming from. Ingman Bergman's purity couldn't have allow him to do a film like "Funny Games", Haneke made it, twice. An artist or a con man? I think both but that in itself is not that unusual, what is unusual is that the con is so rivetingly perpetrated. The ending of his film may provoke in you the desire to throw something at the screen and curse, curse very loudly. But, and here is where the con really works, I found myself wanting to see his films again. What's wrong with me? I think the answer is that I love film and Michael Heneke revisits some of my favorite filmmakers and does to them what the home invaders do to the family of "Funny Games" Extraordinary in as many ways as it is appalling. "Funny Games is considered, by some, to be Michael Heneke's most commercial film, isn't that funny?
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The worst movie I have ever seen.
Chicks17 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This review is long, so just let me start with saying this: If you want to see a good movie of a similar nature, I mean, taken hostage in a house/terrorized by crazy people movie, try 'The Strangers', or 'Them'. Both are along the same lines and are actually decent and worth watching.

In all seriousness, this movie was terrible. Out of the hundreds of films I've watched over the years, this is definitely the worst one. No jokes. I watched it on a recommendation, and I truly regret it. It was beyond boring. To begin with, there was absolutely no character depth. Character depth isn't always necessary, but there's normally something more to compensate that, but in this film I couldn't have cared less if that family survived this ordeal or not. It all started to fail in a scene quite near the start at the dock, where Ann didn't attempt to ask for help from her neighbors who were possibly the last people she would see again, how she just completely failed to mention that the man standing next to her was a raving lunatic who had just broken her husband's leg with a golf club and killed her dog with aforementioned golf club. Instead she just said 'Maybe we'll come by later'. Maybe?! Not 'My phone's on the fritz and my husband could use an ambulance' if she wanted to be subtle. I began to despise the sheer idiocy of this woman. It doesn't stop here, but I won't make this review longer than it needs to be.

I constantly analyze scenes like this, the 'What would I do?' automatic thought, which I know everybody does (if not most people), but for me too many of these moments can make the movie good or bad. Unintelligent decisions like this are what make most movies unrealistic. I lose empathy for characters that make stupid decisions that will ultimately contribute to their demise. I have read other reviews on this movie, and I understand that the movie wasn't intended to be realistic in some senses, one of the killers rewound the movie at one point, which is fine with me, I enjoy surrealism and bizarre stuff, but it seemed like the family were scared for their lives, or scared of the situation but really didn't care about the outcome and had no desire to try to alter it. Had they no survival instincts? No parental instincts for the safety of their son? It's as if these people weren't real people in a sense. All they did was cry about it. If I knew my life was at stake, a fight to the death would commence, and I'm positive that for almost everyone they would at least make some kind of effort to survive.

Tim Roth's character wouldn't be missed if he wasn't there. He had about 10 lines at most, and he just irritated me because he was such a blatant coward from the very beginning. What kind of man slaps another man? Seriously? Roughly drag him towards the door and shove him out, yeah. Fisticuffs, even would have been fantastic. Make some kind of vague attempt to retaliate when you notice that you're about to be hit with a golf club. This isn't how men react to conflict and threats to their lives. Nobody becomes that passive when having their life threatened.

No land line phones? Come on. It's strange enough that the family didn't have one, but the neighbors didn't either? And only one cell phone for the whole family! These people were mentally challenged, if nothing else.

I haven't mentioned everything I hate about this film, of course, because I'd be here for hours.

I could have let some of these things go, but I can't forget about them all. All these little things that irritated me throughout the film just built up and made me despise it.

It's not that I can't deal with art house or surrealist cinema, it's not that I can't deal with anything out of the ordinary, it's that I can't deal with watching idiotic characters with no will to live make awful decisions and cry on my TV screen for almost two hours. I can appreciate and enjoy things that don't make sense, because things don't have to make sense to be enjoyed, but really, this one had all the flaws of a cheesy low budget horror movie, but none of the charm.
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Pointless Social Commentary
dean290014 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This may contain MILD spoilers.

I like good horror/suspense movies in a genre which is full of PG-13 Asian Horror films that are Americanized or complete torture porn such as Hostel.

I was hoping this movie would be different. Unfortunately, the director simply wants to make a point about violence in movies. He basically is stating that people that enjoy the violence are sick.

As for the movie itself, it does have a good performance by Watts and overall the acting is good. However, it builds no suspense and breaks the cardinal rules about films. The characters talk to the audience and uses a remote control to change the events of the film.

I don't know who movie would appeal to. It does not have much violence for the gore hounds and I don't find a couple of psychopaths torturing a family (all off-screen) to be entertaining.

The movie has no suspense, humor, violence, and only a message that violence is bad.

I personally am not a gore hound but I do think the director does not give people enough credit. People know violence in movies are make believe. Why waste 2 hours of peoples times trying to make a social commentary against violence in movies? This movie is nothing more than a waste of time.

My recommendation: Go Rent (or Buy) Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange which covers similar territory but in a much better way.

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Nasty empty and worthless.
freydis-e22 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This comment DEFINITELY contains spoilers – the idea is to stop you wasting your time on this rubbish. Let's start with the entire plot: a couple of sadistic psychos have just murdered a family, they murder another family, at the end they're moving on to murder a third family. That's it. There really is nothing else here.

That's all this particular film deserves by way of description, but IMDb like reviews to be a bit longer so here goes. There's no humour, no sharp dialogue, no ideas, no thought-provoking observations, no sex, no nudity, little graphic violence, not much excitement or suspense, very few scary moments, no surprises, nothing original or even unusual for this type of film. Nothing much happens and the director loves lingering shots where nothing at all does. There's only the relentless nastiness, which, like everything else, soon becomes merely tedious.

I've never given a one-star rating before. Is there really nothing good here? Honestly not much. The acting's not bad. Tim Roth is always good and he does well without having much of a part. As to how he got involved with something like this, or why… The writer-director thinks he's being clever and arty with asides to camera, rewinding the action etc, but what he has produced is drab and monotonous as a fetishist's fantasy – and perhaps that's exactly what it is. If cruelty turns you on, it may even work for you. If not, don't waste your time. A nasty, apparently vacant mind has produced an empty vessel, which can't even manage to make much noise. Watch "Saw 9" instead – and if it hasn't been made yet, never mind, it will. Who knows, Tim Roth might be in it.
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Painful to watch
Alex da Silva29 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Funny Games U.S. as you might know is a remake of the 1997 horror film and is directed by the same person- Michael Haneke. The plot is that two young men take a mother, father and son hostage whilst on vacation in their cabin and force them to play sadistic 'games'. As the film progresses the different types of 'games' become more violent and horrific. The one major, and biggest fault in this film was the slow pacing of certain scenes that took literally twenty five minutes.

An example of one of these scenes is where Ann (Watts) is trying to get up and move to the kitchen but she cant because her arms and legs have been taped up. So here we have at least a ten minute scene of just looking at Ann trying to get. She eventually makes it the kitchen to find a knife and cuts herself free. After doing so Ann accompanies her injured husband (Roth) who has broken his leg after it being whacked by one of the men using a golf club. She moves him into the kitchen, where Ann then searches for a phone to call the police, but the phone had been pushed in the sink earlier on in the film. And so they both try fixing the phone which takes a further ten minutes. They don't succeed. Ann then climbs out the kitchen window to look for a pair of pliers in a greenhouse resulting in another five to ten minutes of slow and boring camera work.

All in all Funny Games U.S. is a severe failure and a painful movie experience which is let down mainly due to poor direction.
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It's torture for them,and torture for me too.
Christian_Dimartino19 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play a couple being terrorized by two very annoying murderers in Funny games. And to tell you the truth,watching this movie is it's own form of torture. Maybe i'm just a baby, but I can't find anything interesting about senseless violence without a plot. I hated Natural born killers,and I hated this movie too.

The movie involves a family(Naomi Watts and Tim Roth and their son) who travels to their lake vacation home. While there, they meet two strange young men(Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) who say that they know the family's friends. But they don't. They were holding them hostage. And hold this family hostage too. And tortures them and makes them play life or death games.

What was the point of this movie? It's the most pointless thriller since Natural born killers. I didn't hate it quite as much as that movie, but I still hated it. This is a pointless, heartless thriller that will serve no purpose what so ever. I hated it so much that I had to stop watching it.

I don't mind violence. I like Robert Rodriguez movies. I won't even mind kids dying in a movie. But if it's violence without a story plot, and the actors annoy, then I won't like it. and I didn't. Really, Funny games is a miserable film.

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Self-awareness and a minor flaw in the message do not detract from powerhouse performances and excellent direction
LoneWolfAndCub21 September 2008
First things first, I have not seen the Michael Haneke's original 1997 Funny Games, however, according to every reviewer, I do not need to (I'm still going to, though). Apparently this American version of Funny Games is a shot-for-shot remake of the original, but with different actors and in English. Also, before seeing this (a year late, as us Australians get most films later) I had read plenty of articles and reviews detailing how dark, powerful and disturbing Haneke's film was. Well, they were damn right. This is a brutal and abrupt film, with no happy endings in sight throughout the majority of the film.

Beginning with a wealthy family: George (Tim Roth), wife Ann (Naomi Watts) and Georgie (Devon Gearhart), driving to their holiday home by a lake. Upon arrival a young boy, Peter (Brady Corbet), knocks on their door asking for eggs. A simple task turns into something a bit more complicated, which frustrates Ann and causes her to ask him to leave. However, Paul (Michael Pitt) also enters the scene. Soon the situation loses control as the family as held hostage by the two sociopaths and subjected to cruel and sadistic games.

This seemingly overdone home-invasion scenario is the set-up for Haneke's hard-hitting social commentary (and the reason he remade the film for American audiences). Violence is present everywhere in society, through books, games, films, television and music. Although I do enjoy violent films and games, it is not hard to see the public are slowly becoming desensitized to violence. Sometimes we may not even notice what we are watching or reading is violent (the news, the papers and even cartoon shows aimed at children). This is the film's target, and this is why Haneke remade it for the U.S., as he believes that this is mostly an American culture. Unfortunately, there is a flaw present in this way of thinking. I believe most people know that when they are watching something like "Hostel" or "Die Hard 4.0" it is all fake, all special effects and it is only there as a form of escapism from one's life. It is interesting to note that this film is not that bloody, with almost all of the violence occurring off-screen, the camera focusing on the witnesses reactions instead. Funnily enough, this annoyed a few reviewers on this site, which kind of proves the director's point. We are hungry for violence in our films, we want to see it all.

"You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment." States Peter when Ann asks them to kill them so the pain can end. The director turns film conventions on their head, as Paul breaks the fourth wall and addresses us, asking us questions. (In this way the film is somewhat pretentious and self-aware, Haneke kind of knows he is making an arty film and it is slightly annoying). Paul knows almost everyone is rooting for the family to survive, for some miraculous way out for them. However, Haneke knows that more often than not, the cavalry never come and the bad guys usually do win.

Upon pointing out Haneke's fault, the man can direct with incredible style. The egg scene is an interesting one, as almost nothing happens, yet he constantly increases the tension every second. And that is just the beginning. There are numerous tracking shots, which add to the atmosphere and frustration. In an eight minute scene, we witness Ann trying to escape her bonds and through this silent scene we feel her anguish and it works very well. However, the direction is supported by some of the strongest performances by an entire cast I have seen all year. Naomi Watts is an incredible actress and her performance as the polite housewife turned heroine is riveting. She goes through a heap of crap throughout the movie and she is convincing 100% of the time. Tim Roth is excellent support, his father (who is crippled at the start of the games) is a tragic character. Usually the father character is the macho hero, but here he is a broken man and Roth portrays this with perfection. Michael Pitt is eerie, charming and sadistic as well-spoken Paul, he is the 21st century Alex (from Stanely Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange"). I am confident he will be a big star in the future. Brady Corbet is more timid, but equally menacing as Peter, the seemingly simpler, but more erratic and violent one. He puts forward an interesting and breakthrough turn and as mentioned before, should be a star to look out for.

Although I will probably not revisit this again, it is definitely well-made and challenging film. It is not a pleasing or uplifting film, and although not gratuitous in its violence, is quite stressing nonetheless. It raises some socially relevant issues and as far as remakes go, it is heads and shoulders above the rest.

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Reviewed after second viewing
bowmanblue20 December 2014
I first watched Funny Games (US) and enjoyed it (well, thought it was a film I'd like to watch again), so I bought it. However, half way through a second viewing, I decided I couldn't take any more and turned it off.

Some may say that's a sure sign that it's a bad movie. They may be right - even its star Tim Roth has since refused to watch it. The film is actually an American version (filmed shot for shot) of an Austrian 'home invasion' movie and is supposed to be about 'the nature of violence.' I didn't know this when I first watched it and just looked at it as a horrific film which was deliberately quirky.

It's about a family who get held hostage in their own (holiday) home by two nasty - yet annoyingly polite - young psychopaths. The first time I watched it I stuck with it and thought it was interesting/different enough to warrant a second viewing. I guess the reason I turned it off is because it was just too frustrating to watch. I practically wanted to jump into the TV armed with a chainsaw and... well, I won't give too much away.

If you don't know about the film, I won't spoil the 'weirder' bits. It's definitely not a horror film, as there isn't much blood and gore (what there is happens off screen). It's more an experience in frustration making statements about the audience's desire to witness blood and gore on the big screen. Now, some may say that's a bit pretentious and, if you feel this way, this film probably isn't for you.

If you want to watch this - be prepared for the least 'feel good' film ever made. It's not a horror and it's not a thriller. It's simply an exercise in watching. It's different enough to rise above a lot of its fellow genre films, but may not be everyone's cup of tea and is definitely hard to sit through.
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Copied and pasted from my review of the original, but they're the same movie, so.... Warning: Spoilers
A little over a month ago, I saw a film called "Devil". In it, a group of people are stuck in an elevator that has come to a dead stop, presumably because the presence of the devil is in with them. Throughout the movie, the people act dumb and just stand there wondering what to do, as opposed to actually doing anything, getting slaughtered one by one. They just START to act towards the end, and that's mainly when we find out who the Devil in question is.

If you're following me, you should have a similar idea of what Funny Games is like.

A family of 3 go on vacation to a nearby lake. They're a perfectly happy family, or so it seems. That is until the backstreet boys... whoops, I mean two boys visit them and they're all nice. Apparently the ma has had enough of them, and even getting the pop to remove them won't work. How do they respond? Whacking him in the leg. WITH A GOLF CLUB.

The dad COULD respond by fighting back. Instead, he just moans and groans and hugs his leg because he's so scared he's going to get killed by the evil golf club of doom. I will also point out that there are 2 bags worth of golf clubs, but the wife is dumb enough not to GRAB ONE AND USE IT AS DEFENSE.

Throughout all this pointless time of fourth wall breaking and pretentiousness, the family could be responding by fighting back, but no, all they can do is weep and moan at the evil golf club of doom. The wife is forced to strip down and the son is blasted away with a shot gun, all because they couldn't do anything to defend themselves.

Oh, but then the two creeps leave for a short period of time. Good, they can do something to defend themselves, right? Like, grab one of the kitchen knives, create a barricade,or best of all, GET IN THE CAR AND GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE, right? No. NO. Capital N, Capital O.

Instead they spend what seems like an hour blowdrying a phone. When they can use it, instead of saying something like "911, police!!! Two crazy teenagers are invading our home!!! Please get to (address) as soon as possible!!!", they spend what seems like an eternity shouting "HELLO???? HELLO????" into the phone. And because of it, when the two psychos come back, it's back to the game.

Oh, I will give the mom credit for manning up and grabbing the gun!!! Oh wait, she only shot one of them and because she apparently, for unknown reasons to the viewer, can't shoot the other, the other grabs a remote and rewinds it. I KID YOU NOT.

I could go on and on, but I'm just getting angry about it. I, for once, am getting tired of movies where a group of people is terrorized and they aren't smart enough to defend themselves. Apparently this was the intention of Haneke, as he usually beats his viewer over the head with the theme because we're too dumb and can only watch a simplified story. Either way, avoid this trash. The only thing more terrifying than two teenage boys terrorizing a family with a golf club is a house full of morons who aren't smart enough to defend themselves.
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0 stars...Total Waste of Time,very very...very bad movie..
ipantelidis-alfie15 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Not suitable for minors and adults under 30 ...Total Waste of Time,this is not just a bad movie,this is a movie where put your brain in sleep mode(even in action frames).My critic it doesn't have about sad end or happy end,i'm talking about every frame of this movie i hated!!! I hope Naomi Watts understand her mistake to choose to play in this garbage.Even the action frames was boring and the scenario was erratic.These interpretations, however, is just one more indicator of wacky harmony that governs Haneke's films and obsession to detail.And these guys are what? Psychopath? Punishment? Playful without cause? Archetypes; Evil will always have a place in the world stand-alone, as though looking for convenient and logic explanations as tormented childhood or the nihilism of contemporary western societies?What is finally «Funny Games»; Movie? Essay on violence? Essay on the rules and boundaries of fiction? Strange movie game? Whatever it is,European cinema is not represented by the remake of this film.
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this is not a movie
bbarabanov27 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
this is not a movie so much as it is a statement, an essay, a motion picture installation. in it two angels visit a family, torture them for eight hours, then murder them. the family makes attempts to escape but they never have a chance; the game is rigged against them, to the extent that after the wife manages to shoot one of the angels the other one rewinds time and prevents her from doing so. and that's the point, life is a game of torture rigged against us and in the end we all die and there is no hope. but then why make the movie? why not just shoot yourself in the head? does not the act of making a film (the same film twice by the way) and all the time and effort and emotion that go into it presuppose hope? if all life amounted to was torture and death at the hands of whimsically malevolent angels then why bother doing anything? - in this way the filmmaker is dishonest with his audience and his film very much resembles intellectual masturbation. it is true that unimaginably horrible things do happen to people in real life and sometimes there is "no hope." but just because something happened doesn't make it artistically truthful (film a brick wall for two hours - the brick wall is there, it's real, it "happened," but that doesn't make it a movie). often one finds in problematic "art films" that the frail skeleton of the plot is unable to support the heavy flesh of philosophy hung on top of it. in this case the philosophy of the movie is not profound enough to justify the extreme events, and that is a form of pornography. and there are little bursts of ideas here and there, with one angel talking to the audience, the mother turning off the TV, the conversation about fiction and reality, etc. but these are not sufficient excuse for watching a mother, father and little boy tortured for two hours then murdered. there is a lot of tension in this movie but there are no real insights into the characters, little character development, and there is not even any interesting conflict. and i understand that this is, in a way, the point, but this point could have been made in fifteen minutes. and the problem is that it is just that, a point, an essay posing as a film, where the filmmaker is in league with the protagonists (or antagonists), and has rigged the world to prove his point (does this make him the evil, sadistic god who sent his angels to destroy all that is sacred?). one could argue that (another) point was to actually make the viewer sit through two hours of pointless torture. but that again is intellectual hocus-pocus, the result of a lot of pretension and not enough compelling ideas.
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Just . . . bad
badwrench1315 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I read a lot of reviews here before watching this film, but did anyway. One should heed the bad reviews as you won't get the time spent watching back.

The good reviews said to expect an art film. There are two kinds of art. Good and bad. This is bad art. It reinforces old perceptions without adding different perspective. Good art gives new perception, or new perspective on old perceptions.

Some of the film was okay. Decent suspense at times combined with truly creepy villains, but it gets lost in a sea of badness.

Pretty standard fare with sadistic abductors brutalizing and humiliating the victims, escape attempts, the "games" the villains wish to play (choose the method by which the chosen victim dies, etc.), nothing really to write home about. No real surprises there.

Then, we get to the end. The rewind sequence, the talking-to-the-audience-through-the-camera schtick (DONE TO DEATH!!!!), and the cycle begins anew at the neighbor's house. It all played out like Z-grade exploitation. Watts and Roth's talents are wasted in this film, but I understand they have bills to pay, too.

If you want a slightly more enjoyable and watchable indictment of media violence and celebrity, watch Natural Born Killers or SFW. Neither are great films, but at least they did not try to be "artsy".
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If you like your nerves ripped open
Dan5 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a movie that's not really a movie. You're expected to recognize that it's actually some kind of meta-text. In that sense it's similar to "Shapes of Things." The director has an axe to grind, only he actually has an axe to grind about people who have axes to grind, only in the end he's only joking about having an axe to grind about people who have axes to grind.

This is a movie in which violence, torture, horror and murder are punchlines. If you think violence, torture, horror and murder are punchlines, you'll probably like this movie. In spite of the nesting Russian doll nature of this movie, at bottom it's torture porn. It's not brainless torture porn like "Saw" but it's torture porn nonetheless.

The sad thing, to me, is that there is some very good acting in the movie, but the movie itself is a waste. As I said, it's a meta-text, a murder joke. Example: The movie encourages, in fact practically forces, the viewer to wish urgently for revenge on the thugs. At one point one of the victims snatches up a shotgun and blows a hole in one of the thugs. So the other thug grabs a remote, hits the reverse button, and we see the movie back up to a point where he can repeat the scene and prevent the victim from killing his companion.

If you think that kind of thing makes for an interesting, thought-provoking movie, you'll probably enjoy it.

As for the unusual, long, still-shot frames, yada yada, unusual, etc. (Except for every movie Kubrick ever made. And every movie made by a director emulating Kubrick.) The movie ends with a freeze-frame of the villain staring into the camera as he's about to embark on another torture/killing spree. Like the ending of some really cheesy Friday the 13th movie.

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Rewind? Talking to the audience? Amateur Hour
kingfish93075 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm surprised that Naomi Watts and Tim Roth would go slumming in what was little more then a bad student film.

In order for this type of film to succeed, the audience must be able to suspend disbelief and really feel the terror of the actors. Funny Games destroys both concepts by not only having the characters speak to the audience (okay for Annie Hall) but also has a character pull a Zack Morris and actually rewind a scene. Couple that with the very boring killers and incomprehensible camera angles, and what are you left with? This very boring, mean spirited film.

Check out In Cold Blood for a better film.
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