I remember getting an invite to the screening and press conference for “Free Guy” and thinking there might have been a mistake. This was a Fox film! Then, quickly realizing that Fox was bought by Disney (and now rebranded to 20th Century Studios), I accepted that invite with no expectations.
From the trailers and the hype around its video game thematic, Ryan Reynolds, and lots of surprise cameos, I didn’t think it would all fit the “Disney brand framework.”
Well, turns out I was proven very wrong as the film does fit the greater studio that it sits with (like how many didn’t think Marvel Studios could work). It’s a Disney film, and for reasons that you’ll be surprised and not surprised about, too.
First off, it’s such an imaginative world-building experience. Like Disney’s films, it takes real-world elements (in this case, our real world) and blends them into an entirely new place where the story will take shape. “I remember reading the script and thinking how this would translate on the screen,” said actress Jodi Comer in a virtual press conference and who plays Millie and her video game counterpart in the movie, Molotov Girl. “But even with so much going on visually, there’s so much emotion,” she said.
That emotional component in the story does come as a surprise, but just another reason why it makes this very much a Disney movie.
“I do know that we tried to make a big, new, original movie with spectacle and scope, and big heart,” said director Shawn Levy. “Based on the early audience reactions, I think we did just that.”
You also get very funny moments that both gamer and not will enjoy thanks to the improv performances of the “villain” of the movie and video game developer Antoine played by Taika Waititi, video game coder Mouser played by Utkarsh Ambudkar, and another dev named Keys played by “Stranger Things” actor Joe Keery.
The ensemble cast is rounded out by amazing performances by Lil Rel Howery, Camille Kostek, and Matty Cardarople, plus those amazing cameos by people I will not name 🙂
I will say that those cameos tie to Disney’s other franchises, which make it all for good fun just like how the sequel to “Wreck-It Ralph” did the same thing for its movie. They will definitely not feel out of place as you see them throughout the film.
In all, that’s what this movie is all about though! Yes, there are jokes, story elements, and language that make the movie for more mature audiences. At the same time, the movie ties it all up in a nice package of a movie that plays nicely within its studio’s new owners and what that studio is known for – good entertainment.
“I really don’t think our movie is a video game movie,” said Reynolds who plays the main character named, well, Guy. “It’s a movie about so much more.”
To maybe complete Reynolds’ thought, “Free Guy” is the surprise hit of the summer, and won’t be “game over” for people wanting more of the same in this next chapter of 20th Century Studios.