Gini’s Christmas Classics | Reindeer Games

The Two Gay Geeks and our Staff are taking a much needed break from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, but we still wanted to have content for you to read during that time. As such we got busy and watched all of our favorite holiday videos. Some are classics and others are off-beat and loosely associated with the holidays. We hope you enjoy our offerings and that you holiday season is safe, sane, and satisfying.

Reindeer Games

By Gini Koch

Another heist movie set at Christmas time? Yes indeed, and despite its genre, Reindeer Games is definitely a Christmas movie. But is it worthy of being called a classic? Let’s find out…

Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) and Nick Cassidy (James Frain) are cellmates in prison. Rudy, who’s been in for five years for grand theft auto, and Nick, who’s been in for two years for manslaughter for killing a man who was hitting on/bothering his girlfriend are three days away from release – which will be just a few days before Christmas.

Nick’s been corresponding with Ashley (Charlize Theron) for almost as long as he’s been inside, and he has a lot of pictures of her up on the wall. He reads her letters aloud to Rudy, and it’s clear that Rudy’s also in love with Ashley. Nick’s looking forward to spending the rest of his life with Ashley while Rudy is just looking forward to going home to his parents and having Christmas dinner.

Two days before release, a food fight breaks out in the prison mess hall and Nick saves Rudy from getting shivved, but takes the shiv himself. He gasps out that Rudy has to go see Ashley, because she’ll be waiting for him (Nick) and he doesn’t want her left there not knowing.

Rudy gets out and, at first, just goes onto the bus that will take him into town. But his better instincts are overcome by the fact that he’s in love with Ashley. So he gets out and goes to her…and says that he’s Nick Cassidy.

Why does he lie? He feels guilty for Nick’s death and he wants to be with Ashley. He promises himself that he’ll let her have these holidays, where she thinks she’s with the guy she’s been corresponding with and is all happy, and then he’ll tell her the truth.

After an awkward start, things heat up fast between Rudy and Ashley and it looks like they’re going to have that wonderful holiday time Ashley’s been planning, when Ashley’s vicious psychopath of a brother, Gabriel, aka Monster (Gary Sinise), and his gang of thugs show up and beat Rudy up. Why? They want the information that “Nick” has about the casino where he used to work, because they plan to rob it.

Rudy insists he’s not Nick, but this almost gets him killed. So he “admits” to being Nick. This merely gets him beaten up. Again. Things go from bad to worse, with Rudy and Ashley both almost dying, Ashley at least once, Rudy several times. Then Rudy discovers something that changes everything.

Saying anything beyond this will ruin the plot, so I won’t. I will merely share some of the rest of the cast: Danny Trejo, Donal Logue, Clarence Williams III, Dennis Farina, and Ashton Kutcher. This movie was loaded with talent, and every actor, large role or small, does a great job of completely inhabiting their characters. Also, Gary Sinise is potentially the greatest actor of his generation who doesn’t get any credit for being the greatest actor of his generation.

I also happen to really like Ben Affleck. I think that he’s not only extremely handsome but he’s also a far better actor than most want to give him credit for. Reindeer Games came out while Ben’s star was rising, but a dark heist movie is not necessarily a huge sell at the holidays, the rest of the cast weren’t big draws in and of themselves at the time, critics were nasty for a variety of reasons, and the movie didn’t do well.

The hubs got the DVD for me as a gift, just because he knew I’d want to watch Big Ben even if the movie sucked. But it doesn’t suck. It doesn’t suck at all.

Every time we watch this movie, the hubs and I are both shocked at how good it is. The cast is stellar, the pacing is spot on, the action is believable and filmed so you can actually see what’s going on, and the script is clever and twisty. Most of those twists you will not see coming, but all of them make sense the moment you see them.

Is it really a Christmas movie? Well, Rudy wants to get home for Christmas, and he says so often. It’s what keeps him going. And the holiday plays into the robbery as well. Because if people robbing a casino dressed as Santa Claus isn’t a Christmas movie, then I don’t know what is. And, unlike Rudy, I’m not playing any Reindeer Games on you when I say that.

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