The best gaming movie VHS has to offer

The best gaming movie VHS has to offer

Nate Buchik

Movie Review

Ever-growing in hipster lore, “”The Wizard”” features Rilo Kiley singer and indie rock starlet Jenny Lewis, only 13 at the time of the film’s release, in her most prominent role.

Adding to the reminiscent glory are co-stars Fred Savage and Christian Slater. To top it off, the film unveils Nintendo’s “”Super Mario Bros. 3″” to the world.

Fed up with the lack of care his parents are giving to his rather odd (read: autistic) little brother Jimmy, Corey (Savage) kidnaps the boy in hopes of making it to California. Unfortunately, they only have a few bucks.

Extremely shy, but a natural at video games, Jimmy wows a girl at the bus station by getting 50,000 points in “”Double Dragon”” in about 30 seconds, impressive to say the least. The girl, Haley (Lewis), is a little more knowledgeable about life on the road and decides to join them on their trip. They also find a more specific goal: to get Jimmy, now donned “”The Wizard,”” to the video game championships that are a few days and a couple of states away.

As they travel, they hustle old men at the arcade to pay for food, get beaten up by bullies and compete against a rival gamer by the name of Lucas. A perfect villain, he’s got more experience and a Power Glove. (Favorite quote: “”I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad.””)

There’s also an implausible subplot with Corey’s family and a hired gun competing to find the runaway kids first. Deep within this subplot lies a sub-subplot involving Corey’s older brother Nick (Slater) and father (Beau Bridges) trying to reconnect, but this only detracts from the gaming and is the reason, curious reader, why the film didn’t earn a perfect score.

Somehow they make it to the championships, “”Video Armageddon,”” despite Haley’s lies and deception, Savage’s overacting and Jimmy’s lost hat. Jimmy breezes through the first round (which is also apparently the semifinals), where Lucas and an inconsequential girl await him. The Wizard, of course, comes out on top, and even shows the audience the location of the first warp in “”Mario 3.””

While the amount of cross-promotion with Nintendo is a little disturbing, you’ve got to admire the genius of giving the world the first glimpse of a big game on the big screen.

It also serves as a tribute to the Nintendo Entertainment System, with games like “”Ninja Gaiden”” and “”Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”” popping up.

And, of course, it’s a pleasure to see Jenny Lewis steal the film with a hilarious and heartbreaking performance; perhaps the sole reason Ben Gibbard is dating her. Her desperate shout, “”He touched my breast”” in a crowded casino brings the film to a whole strange, odd level just when you think it might be running out of gas.

If you’re in the mood for a gaming movie and still have a VCR, this stands to be one of the best in the genre.

You can rent it at Casa Video, 205 E. Speedway Blvd.