Pinball: The Man Who Saved The Game – Raindance 22 Review
Before video games there was another kind of game called pinball and in many states in America, it was deemed illegal due to their gambling aspects. The trouble is that it took over 30 years and for one man to show the courts that pinball is not a game of chance, but a game of skill and that man was pinball enthusiast and GQ writer, Roger Sharpe (Dennis Boutsikaris).
Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game is a comedy biopic about Roger Sharpe, the man who helped to overturn the decision in New York and across The United States which made pinball illegal. Starting out as a mockumentary, Sharpe is interviewed about his life and the audience is introduced to young Roger (Mike Faist) and how it all started.
Going back to the 70’s, the film shows how Sharpe’s fascination with the game started and how he became a pinball wizard. However, the film also knows that this kind of subject could be rather dry if you’re not into pinball, so the story is helped along with a love story when he meets Ellen (Crystal Reed).
Although this is not to say that Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game is a straightforward biopic either. Because it is not just a biopic, but a dissection of biopics themselves as older Roger often steps in to pick at the facts and point out the clichés. So, for those who didn’t know about Sharpe’s story or don’t care, there’s still a lot to like.
However, as much as it does try to subvert the tropes of biopics, it often falls into them. For example, Ellen only seems to exist as a plot device for the audience to cling onto as she fawns over him, helping him get through bad times.
Also, biopics do often focus more on relationships rather than the thing for which the main character is known best, and Pinball does seem to forget this too.
Saying that though, for those interested in gaming history and don’t care too much about the details then Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game is fun. Often breaking the fourth wall, it seems to know its niche value and runs with it.
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