Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story (2010)

Ah Monopoly, who hasn’t enjoyed sitting around the dining room table and playing with your family? Who hasn’t called their own mother a ‘filthy whore’ for buying the only green property you don’t own, or threatened to cut off your cousin’s hand if you catch him stealing money from the bank again?  Monopoly has been bringing families together (and possibly separating a few here and there) for almost 80 years, and is truly America’s favorite board game.  This documentary takes us through the competitive US Monopoly season of 2009.  That’s right, we said ‘competitive’.  There are professional players out there who covet the title of US champion and the $20k that goes along with it.  We get to meet some of the past champions and those that aspire to be at the top of the gaming world.  The players range from nerdy math teachers, average Joes, 40-year old virgins to scuzzy lawyers.  This film chronicles their journey from the national compition all the way to the world championships in Vegas, where the twenty-eight best Monopoly players on planet Earth will trade properties, build hotels and maybe spend a little time in jail in hopes of a huge pay day.

In addition to the tourney, we also get a look at the history of the game – its humble beginnings as a teaching tool against capitalism, to the Atlantic City man who altered it to make it a game exactly the opposite of its original intent.  We get to see how a simple board game has influenced popular culture over the past decades as well as some fanatic collectors who have decorated their homes in monopoly themes and who own dozens of versions of the game.  What started as a way to pass the time in the depths of the Great Depression has become an enduring past time in hundreds of countries around the world; and in the end is just a good time to be spent with friends and family… except Aunt Shannon. We don’t care if you usually get extra money for landing on Free Parking when you play at home.  You’ll get nothing and like it at my house. We play street rules here, skank!

Alex’s Thoughts: First off, I’d just like to say eff that fat lawyer in this movie; he plays against little kids and accuses everyone of cheating.  You, sir, are a dickhole. The best part of this movies was watching you come in dead-last in the national tournament.  Now then, where were we?  It is a movie about a board game, and not a fancy big-budget movie like Battleship, but a film made by the fans for the general public.  First off, if you don’t like the game, you will mostly certainly not like the movie. Secondly, you really need to like the game to like the movie.  There are parts about strategy and probability and other very game specific stuff that might not interest the casual fan.  Some documentary fans might get a kick out of it, I did, but the majority of people would probably have more fun peeling the McDonald’s monopoly game pieces off of their hash browns. Alex Rates This Movie 6.5/10 

Tim’s Thoughts: First of all, I want to thank my Stepmom for teaching me how to be good at Monopoly, and I have to thank my sister for helping me be absolutely ruthless. King of Kong has ruined a lot of documentaries for me, that had a compelling hero, a villain, and an epic story that was to strange to be made up. This suffers from a complete lack of any of these characters. The one likable guy comes up a bit short, and I was forced to rely on enjoying the history of the game and it’s evolution instead of getting attached to the players. Except for the guy with a framed picture of him and his cat, that was amazing. All in all, it’s passable, and not a bad watch by any means, but it certainly isn’t as good or captivating as some. Tim Rates This Movie 6/10

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