Special When Lit (2009)

It’s no secret that Tim and I are nerds. Not like pocket protector and watch calculator Big Bang Theory nerds, but we like comic books and sci-fi movies, and books; stuff the general population would consider nerd-like. We can appreciate things that aren’t really main stream, and are interested in activities, movies and other things that many people would just pass by. That is why we felt like we had to review this movie. Pinball, frankly, is almost dead. Video games, and specifically the home video game system, killed it almost 20 years ago. But there are still those hardcore fans out there that love it, and we love them for it. It’s is sort of pleasing to know that there are people out there who have an appreciation or have a great skill for something that most people could care less about or have forgotten about completely; whether it be pinball, Donkey Kong or old collectables.

Our documentary begins with a history lesson on pinball; its humble start in the 30’s as a game of chance where there were no flippers and you were simply at the mercy of gravity. This led to betting and thus the game was outlawed in most places. It wasn’t until the flappers were added, that it turned into a game of skill and was legalized again (pinball was illegal in New York until 1974!). Now this game was the shit, and companies sprang up overnight to meet the world’s demands for this new fad. Arcades were full of these machines and they could also be found in almost any US restaurant or store… any place people were likely to gather. This game made more money than the movie industry for almost two decades. As we mentioned above, video games would become the new fad, as the larger pinball machines were ignored or removed to make way for two video game cabinets.

We get to meet some of the people who are trying to preserve this past time: the collectors. Guys, always guys ages 45-60, with pinball machines in every corner of the house and garage. There are wealthy guys with huge beautiful buildings built to house their collections, to shulbby guys who would rather spend their money of pinball machines than indoor plumbing. Pinball was something that wasn’t specific to a race, gender or social status, and we see that in the cross section of collectors. Mixed in with the collectors are the professional pinball players who still compete annually for prizes and cash. To these people, pinball never went out of style, and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon.

Alex’s Thoughts: This doc wasn’t necessarily well made, nor is it a subject matter that really interests me (I am just awful at pinball, and so therefore being a guy, I hate it), but this thing made me want to scour eBay for a pinball machine for my basement. I just really appreciate the passion these people have for an outdated game. This could have been about people who collect rotary phones, and I would probably be like “Yeah, I totally need one of those too, I like spending 3 minutes dialing a phone number!”. I think most fans of pop culture would like this, whether you’ve played pinball before or not. Alex Rates This Movie 7/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I am not great at pinball either, but if I have quarters and the machine has a theme I like, I spend money. This is one of those doc’s that you can turn on and come in and out of the room while it plays. It doesn’t grip you like King Of Kong, but it does make  you laugh, and you can’t help but love some of these guys who are so nuts for these games. I appreciate their passion, as I feel that way about movies and books, and for that I could really immerse myself. Plus seeing these guys with pinball machines taking over their homes, it makes my 1000 plus movie collection look tame. Tim Rates This Movie 9/10

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue