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Forget the retread plot, Reynolds is gold in “Free Guy”

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Courtesy CNN

Every morning, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up, says “Wassup” to his goldfish, gets dressed, eats breakfast, gets coffee and goes to work. Every day, the bank he works at gets robbed and he gets run over, blown up or just plain beaten up. Every day is exactly the same.

At least until Guy meets Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer). As he gets to know her and falls for her, Guy’s whole world begins to change. He soon learns he’s a non-playable character in a massive online video game called “Free City” and worse, his reality is about to be destroyed when the game is replaced by “Free City 2.”

That’s the plot of “Free Guy” and if it sounds familiar, that’s because it knicks most of its story from other movies. The plot device involving glasses that let Guy see the truth beneath his world’s veneer? That’s straight out of John Carpenter’s “They Live.” Characters living in a world where they’re manipulated by unseen forces? Movies like “Dark City” did that a while ago. The prominent role love plays in “Free Guy”? That’s something straight out of “The Matrix.”

But borrowing your story elements from other stories doesn’t have to doom you to making a dull, uninteresting movie. Not as long as you have something those other movies didn’t have and what “Free Guy” has that those other flicks didn’t is Reynolds.

Reynolds makes Guy a clueless dork who does what’s expected of him until he decides not to. As he begins to make his own decisions, Guy begins to blossom as a person, but he never loses that dorky dude who is the core of who he is. The sincerity he displays as he tries to win over Molotov Girl is completely disarming and even funny. Reynolds is so good that it’s hard to see this movie without him in the role of Guy.

Reynolds single-handedly makes this movie worth seeing but luckily “Free Guy” has more good stuff going on in it. Comer is great in her role, being as convincing as her super-cool, hard-core game character as she is as the lonely gamer she is in the real world. She’s the perfect counterweight for Guy and the two of them are great fun to watch together.

Speaking of fun to watch, Taika Waititi is a blast as Antoine, the slimy game developer who owns the company that made “Free City.” He’s way, way over the top, but I buy him as a nerdy wannabe who succeeded and let it all go straight to his head.

But the best thing about “Free Guy” is that it portrays what it’s like to fall in love pretty flawlessly. Guy’s world gets bigger and the way he sees everything around him expands as he falls farther and farther for Molotov Girl. It’s almost as if once you meet and connect with someone special, you can’t see the world the same way again. The way Guy sees things changes a bit more radically, but it’s easy to relate to the kind of awakening he has as a result of experiencing love. I like that.

“Free Guy” was a bit of a surprise to me. I expected to laugh and be entertained and I definitely did and was. I wasn’t expecting the emotional wallop that hit me or that I’d be thinking about what it’s like to fall in love after the credits rolled. That was unexpected, yet welcome.

3 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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