It’s the chance of a lifetime, as the poster says. It is also true for this film about 3 youths that are on a quest to get to Video Armageddon so that they can win $50,000 dollars. The film is more than just that, as most films from the 80’s, it is about the growth of friendships, dealing with heartache and loss as well. This film comes from a time where everything happening was new and people actually reveled in having fun. The gaming industry was young and everything 8 bit was the coolest thing under the sun. The film also gave a big boost to Nintendo and Super Mario Bros. 3, that was released after the move showed in the States. In all it was a fun film for kids and the parents that wondered what their children were doing all the time on that grey box hooked up to the TV.
The film is centered on Jimmy Woods (Luke Edwards) who winds up being The Wizard. He is a troubled child that is constantly walking off with his yellow lunch box. No one really knows what is in it but he will not let it out of his sight. It is not till much later in the film that we find out why he has it and what is in it. As to his troubles, he is withdrawn and detached as he is still dealing with the death of his twin sister. He is determined to find the place where they had the most fun together and that is why he keeps wandering off. His mother Christine Bateman (Wendy Phillips) and his step father (Sam McMurray) don’t know what to do with him and don’t understand what is going on with Jimmy. Bateman finally has enough and puts the child in an institution so he doesn’t have to deal with it any more. This winds up being something that Jimmy’s brother will not stand for.
Corey Woods (Fred Savage) is living with his father Sam Woods (Beau Bridges) and his brother Nick Woods (Christian Slater) and is deeply concerned about what is happening to Jimmy. He berates his dad about it and accuses him of not caring what happens to his half brother. Nothing could be further from the truth, Sam is concerned but there is nothing that he can do. It is all that Sam can do to try and take care of his other sons as he works as a landscaper and even try’s to cook to make things better. He is a terrible cook and even gags on his own casserole. He is doing the best that he can since his wife left after the death of his daughter Jennifer drowned in the Green River two years earlier. Corey doesn’t see it that way and gets it into his mind to help his brother even if his dad will not.
Corey has the address of where is brother is being kept and sneaks into there and then with his brother in tow hides in a Hostess van. The two of them are trying to get to California since that is where Jimmy wants to go. He doesn’t understand why his brother wants to go there but he wants to make sure that it happens. Along the way they meet up with Haley Brooks (Jenny Lewis), a truckers daughter that is on her way home in Reno. It is at that meeting that they find out that Jimmy is a wiz at video games and hatch a scheme to get the money that they need to get to California. Shorty after that they realize that if they get to Video Armageddon sponsored by Universal Studios and Nintendo that they could win it big. Haley has her own reasons to get the money, at first it seems just selfishness but she has a loftier goal in mind. It is something that she is also embarrassed about and keeps hidden until she has no choice.
The Batemans, or rather the husband, is livid that Jimmy has left yet again and with Corey with him this time. They even try blaming Sam for it. The institute is forced to hire a locator to retrieve Jimmy. Putnam (Will Seltzer) is a grade A greedy low life that hunts down runaways for a living. This one job winds up being the worst job of his entire career. He only gets paid if he can get the child to the parents before anyone else. He sees that Sam is not going to just sit by and do nothing. Sam wants to find both his sons and is not going to let Putnam get in his way. All throughout the movie Sam and Putnam are at each other. At one point Putnam actually has Sam’s truck towed to a scrap yard where it gets chopped up for parts and such. Luckily his son Nick is good at fixing things and is able to scavenge enough parts at the yard to get the truck on the road again.
This film is full of twists and turns and is still a nice view as it was then. Even though the graphic of computer and video games has advanced since then, the story is the real star of the film. You could latterly redo this film now and it would be almost the same, though maybe a little more scary for the kids. Now a days 3 kids traveling across the country would be a real problem, back then it happened more than you would realize. I would recommend this film because it is just fun to watch. I won’t lie, it actually pulled a few tears out of me.
I give this film a Musing review of