Take a Chance With A Monopoly Movie

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| December 16, 2022

I can hear the keyboards now: “MuMahPooLiE kOod nEivUh dEw go0D 3 MewViE ouibyOUIYFBuUBFV!!!!11!1”

So the story of the Monopoly movie being unceremoniously sent to production jail goes like this: Frank Beddor, producer of There’s Something About Mary and author of The Looking Glass Wars, wrote a treatment for the film back in 2009. The director originally tagged with the project was none other than RIDLEY SCOTT! Y’know, Alien franchise, Blade Runner franchise, Gladiator, The Martian. THAT guy. Apparently, he was pretty immediate in his desire to direct the movie after seeing the treatment. Which is impressive as hell, to say the least.

Ridley Scott and Frank Beddor
A team you can trust. (Wikipedia)

Again, this was back in 2009, and word of the film was quickly forgotten and died out. Reason being, most likely, things not lining up correctly between production and Hasbro at the time. Recently, however, there’s been buzzing about the movie getting a tentative release in 2027, and two new names have been attached to the project: Kevin Hart and Tim Story. We’ll get to them in a minute. 

A recent blog post from Franks’s Site talks about the premise of his treatment. According to the post: Chuck Nash is a man obsessed with Monopoly and looking to break the record for the longest game ever with some friends. From that sentence alone, you can tell he doesn’t have a whole lot going for him in the romance department; however, he does have a love interest in his crush from his school days. On the night of their attempt to break the record, a fight breaks out, as is tradition of Monopoly in its third hour, and the friends leave angrily. Chuck falls asleep with a Chance card in his hand, one that he wanted to dominate in the game with, and awakens to the world of Monopoly City, a world where using literal Monopoly money buys you things like coffee and, I assume, renter’s insurance. Oh, and Uncle Pennybags pops up all over the place as (possibly) different characters with odd jobs in a manner I can only assume makes him this universe’s god-like Doctor Manhattan with just as many, if not more abilities.

Pennybags statue
I have walked across the surface of the Sun. I have witnessed events so tiny, and so fast they can hardly be said to have occurred at all. (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Chuck’s back story also has a lot of ties to neighborhood gentrification, a known and serious problem in the real world. This is interesting because it can help add some nuance to the story with real-world consequences being attached. Anyway, Chuck attempts to save his neighborhood from undergoing gentrification by coming up with a new type of “Gentrification with Soul,” which doesn’t take with his bosses. It’s only after his mother gifts him with an original addition Monopoly board made by the same company as Jumanji (I assume) that we go from the real world to Monopoly City. It is here we are introduced to the antagonists of the story: the rapaciously avaricious Parker Brothers. They have learned that getting to the real world can only be obtained by creating a Monopoly in this one, and they don’t intend to stop with this world.

Assorted Monopoly Money
Gonna make it rain! (Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun/Landov)

Chuck crosses paths with these embodiments of greed itself while attempting to help a woman that looks suspiciously similar to his real-world crush from being evicted from her apartment. While offering to help pay her rent and keep her off the street, he discovers he has enough wealth to buy the complex. I think we can all see where this is going. They take a trip to Monopovegas and… no wait, that was MY dream. The two decide to work together to take down the Parkers and get Chuck back home.

That treatment, as described by Beddor, a man that took liberties with characters from Lewis Carroll’s stories for his own books, was very inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and utilizing the trope “stranger in a strange land” but modernizing it with Monopoly. This comes through clearly in the material already.

We already know that something like this can work with the existence of Free Guy, the Ryan Reynolds-helmed Disney adventure about an NPC becoming sentient and self-aware. I think it could be interesting to do something similar with Uncle Pennybags? There’s some “good” knowing that Free Guy is an amazing and fun film, but also some “bad” that it already exists. Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least interested to see what they can do with Frank’s treatment and the names he has attached. 

This brings us to the names currently attached to the project: Hart and Story. If I have to tell you who Kevin Hart is, go watch a movie at any point in the last decade, I’ll wait. I wouldn’t be surprised if you aren’t too familiar with director Tim Story. To be concise, he and Hart have worked on several projects together. I personally believe that Hart has the perfect presence to portray the protagonist of this property and to have a director that fully understands him and has worked on projects such as the GOOD Fantastic Four movies and, most recently, the Tom and Jerry film (a mix of reality and cartoons that was honestly beautifully shot if not all that decently executed), I feel safe to say this would be a pretty damn good comedy with some pretty stunning visuals and a unique story. If just the treatment was enough for someone like Ridley Scott to take a serious interest in and could pull the comedic chops of Kevin Hart for recognition, I’m interested in what they have to say.

That or, you know, it’ll be another bad movie with a bad premise. Basically, the same thing we’ve been getting and will keep getting until someone decides to take a chance and create something as weird as Alice In Wonderland but with Uncle Pennybags.

Top hat, penguin, and thimble game pieces played on a Monopoly board
I MUST see that penguin in the movie doing penguin stuff. (Hasbro)

My only advice to Story and (possibly) Beddor would be this: do not be afraid to get freaking WEIRD with it! Free Guy totally leaned in on its eccentricities. Everything Everywhere All At Once totally restored my faith in modern cinema with its completely insane but beautiful storytelling and exciting action. These types of movies show us how being weird and stupid can also be smart and fun. I very much would like to see more films embracing these aspects. Either that or do something that waxes philosophically about the current atmosphere of politics and the nearly religious-like cultism of personality that is capitalism and simultaneously piss everyone off and make them happy by doing the impossible… but with Uncle Pennybags.

And to anyone that is considering this a failure already without having seen the thing and coming to a conclusion after the fact; first of all, shut up, stupid. Also-too-as well, remember what they said about Heath Ledger playing the Joker in the coolest and most realistic Batman franchise ever conceived? How about the absolute failure of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (I ask, facetiously)? Remember how Sonic sucked even though they changed his look from that homunculus to a cute cartoon on par with Bugs Bunny himself? No! All those things are awesome because the creative minds behind them made that possible through the power of imagination. I mean, hell, if they can make a Barbie movie look interesting, I have faith that the greatest game about capitalism will find its way to the big screen in a fun and exciting way. Although, to be fair, Barbie does have two of the most beautiful people scantily clad in 80s like apparel… but no Uncle Pennybags.

Man dressed as Pennybags at a Senate hearing
“We live in a society.”  (Aaron P. Bernstein/REUTERS)

You can bet your asses we’ll be keeping a close eye on the happenings as they happen to happen about this flic. Be sure to stay tuned for future updates.  Also, let us know what you think of this in the comments. Are you ready to see what they can do with such a property? Or are you already counting the minutes to its failure?

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