Funny Games (Widescreen) product details page

Funny Games (Widescreen)

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Michael Haneke's Funny Games initially takes on the rhythms of a typical thriller. The elements are familiar -- an air-brushed upper-class family, a glittering house in the country, the sudden intrusion of brutality. As it becomes clear early on, however -- about the time one of the movie's villains winks at us after murdering the family dog -- there is more on the movie's mind than your garden-variety mayhem. As difficult to sit through as it is to dismiss, Haneke's movie is a hectoring critique of the violence that pervades pop culture, and how much of a role we play in perpetuating such moral bankruptcy. With his winking killers, who name themselves after pop-culture icons (Tom and Jerry at one point, Beavis and ******-Head the next), Haneke seeks to lay bare the audience's complicity in media depictions of violence and ****** exploitation. That the movie is unrelenting in its punishment and extravagant in its sadism is the point. Stripping the sexy sheen off violence, Haneke forces us to consider the charge we get from cool gunfights and Bruckheimer-esque explosions. The problem with Haneke's vision is its blinkered high-mindedness. Excessively brutal, shamelessly moralistic, and irredeemably didactic, Funny Games can only accomplish its sadistic mission by outright underestimating its audience's intelligence and sensitivity. That the movie does have something of value to say about the casual debasement of human beings in pop culture makes Haneke's haughty presumptuousness all the more unfortunate. Elbert Ventura, All Movie Guide