Mazes and Monsters

by Tom Ingram

Genre Fantasy
People Tom Hanks; Wendy Crewson; Rona Jaffe w.p.; Steven Hilliard Stern d.; David Wallace; Chris Makepeace; Anne Francis; Murray Hamilton
/10 6

Four kids decide to upgrade their D&D experience by LARPing their campaign. One of them (Hanks) loses track of what is and is not real and runs away to New York on a quest. Based on the novel by Rona Jaffe.

This is a very silly movie that came out of the Satanic mania of the late 70s and early 80s. The book is based on garbled press accounts of an actual incident, to lend it even more historical flavour. It is hilarious that purportedly serious people could misunderstand something as simple as role-playing games so drastically, but it did happen. Now that the moral panic (which actually caused a lot of harm to a lot of people) is lost in the sands of time, we can enjoy this movie guilt-free. Unfortunately, there’s not much to enjoy. The silliness of the premise is worth a couple of laughs, but it takes itself so seriously that stops being funny and becomes pathetic.

The movie features Tom Hanks in his first lead role. Despite everything, the acting is not that bad (of course the dialogue is stilted when they’re talking in-character; how could it not be?). It’s a shame that everything else wasn’t better. This movie is made with the same ingredients as many very entertaining fantasy B-movies. There’s just no love, no fun, no humour, because it was made by people on a mission.

1h40m; 1982; Colour