The Monopoly movie is definitely not a terrible idea

1930s London Monopoly. Note the Voysey-style houses straight out of Metroland.So I hear there’s a Monopoly movie in the works. The fact that I heard it from Cracked.com does not make the idea any less problematic.

Now, I enjoy Monopoly a lot. It’s probably my favourite board game (Cluedo can fuck right off). I know the secret little strategies, I know which squares you shouldn’t buy, I’ve even got out of jail free (with thanks to my lawyer, Quincy Rafter).

These days, there are so many versions of Monopoly that it’s getting ridiculous (some I’ve come across are King’s College and a knock-off set in Dartmouth). There’s even one based on post-war toy trains made by the Lionel company, which even I, a notorious train nut, think is a bit much. There’s a Belfast version, which primarily differs from the other versions in that the car is upside down and someone has shot the dog.

 But for me, Monopoly is the classic London version. You know, the one that features loads of places that you’ve only heard of because they’re on the Monopoly board. Old Kent Road is brown, Mayfair is purple. This version was for a long time also the one used in Europe and much of the Commonwealth. So well-known is this version that it’s often erroneously assumed to be the first one – that’s actually Atlantic City. Me, I don’t like the updated versions. I like my Monopoly to be a little bit retro, with steam trains in the station and some ugly old lag in the jail (I call him Cyril).

Anyway, that’s my credentials as a Monopoly-enjoyer established. And I think the idea of a movie is just awful. The scenario is this. Our main character is a lovable loser who works as an estate agent (because everyone loves estate agents, amirite?) and is an enthusiastic Monopoly player who one day…

[PAUSE INSERTED HERE. SEE IF YOU CAN GUESS THE NEXT PLOT POINT]

… finds himself inside the Monopoly game! It’s krazy!

Kirk Douglas in the unsuccessful Pictionary movie.

Here’s the thing. Board games don’t make for great movies. This is because they are board games. They are designed to work as board games. They are not designed to be watched. Frustration is a good board game, a two-hour film about frustrated people would not be a good movie. Snakes and Ladders – actually, that would be a pretty awesome movie. But in general, my point stands. The only board game movie that really worked was Cluedo (or Clue, if you’re one of those Yankee types), and that’s because the basic plot of the game is a standard Agatha Christie-style detective story, complete with country vicar and retired colonel.

Monopoly’s premise, on the other hand, is that it’s about buying and selling property. If you’ve ever dealt with estate agents, you’ll know what incredible fun that is. Now, the director is Ridley Scott, so maybe he’ll pull something out of the hat and produce a completely amazing film and I’ll wind up looking stupid. But I maintain that it’s almost impossible to make an interesting film about land sales. Unless…

Success!

Further reading

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2009/11/a-monopoly-movie-the-story-behind-the-roll-of-the-dice-.html – For a fuller account of this mooncalf of a movie.

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Filed under 20th Century, Current events, Film and TV, Geography, History, Islington, Kings Cross, London, London's Termini, Only loosely about London, West End

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