FREE GUY – Review by Susan Granger

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If you missed Ryan Reynolds’ adventure/comedy Free Guy at theaters, it’s streaming on Disney+.

Reynolds plays Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller who discovers he’s actually a background player in a popular, mayhem-filled video game called ‘Free City.’ When he falls in love with Molotov Girl, a spunky, sunglass-wearing, leather-clad biker-chick, he faces an existential crisis and decides to reinvent himself as a hero.

As Guy experiments with the concept of ‘free will,’ his friendship deepens with fellow N.P.C. (non-playable character) bank guard Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), although Buddy is reluctant to break from the restrictive pixel parameters of the game.

The franchise ‘Free City’ is owned by Soonami Studios, headed by avaricious Antwan (Taika Waititi). But the game is based on a code developed by Keys (Joe Keery) and Millie (Jodie Comer), as villainous Antwan blatantly stole their intellectual property.

Familiarity with video games would obviously enhance your enjoyment. Free City is based on Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto III (2001) and Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) games, although the opening aerial shot is of Pittsburgh, PA, and much of the filming took place in and around Boston, MA.

But – as a non-gamer – it was fun to envision “an algorithm who thinks he’s alive” or “the first real artificial intelligence,” assuming the avatar Blue Shirt Guy. And the glowing walls of Stash City may have been inspired by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book Library, designed by Gordon Bunshaft.

As for laugh-out-loud dialogue, there’s Millie/Molotov Girl’s observation: “I sometimes forget that not everyone you meet here is a sociopathic man-child.”

Based on a screenplay by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn, it’s directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum series), who stuffs the fable with techno-chatter, special effects, ‘inside’ jokes known as Easter Eggs and celebrity cameos, including YouTube gamers.

Want more Ryan Reynolds? His The Adam Project streams on Netflix on March 11.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Free Guy is an addictive 7, perhaps the most enjoyable video-game-inspired movie yet….on Disney+.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.