‘Monopoly’ film is money

by Carmen Splane

Courtesy of Sandy Moul
Courtesy of Sandy Moul

A documentary about a board game could easily turn into a snooze fest, yet San Diego filmmakers Kevin Tostado and Craig Bentley have made a documentary that skillfully captures the history, nostalgia and phenomenon of the world’s most popular board game: Monopoly. The film intricately weaves the appeal and origins of the game with the Monopoly World Championship, following seven competitors as they buy and negotiate their way toward a spot in finals.

Although the Monopoly World Championship is in no way a contact sport, the competition is far from a tea party. Competition is fierce and suspected cheaters are dubbed “unsavory characters.” One player even goes so far as to call another player the “dark prince of Monopoly.”

Despite the rampant backbiting, each of the five U.S. competitors has a love for the game that is unmatched. Some play the game strictly by mathematical calculations and probability while others play for sentimental reasons. Whatever their reasons for competing, Monopoly absolutely consumes their lives and watching these competitors mull over game strategy is fascinating and at times, comical.

It is not hard to imagine how these die-hards have become so enamored with the game. Monopoly is a pop culture icon that has stood the test of time. Played in hundreds of countries around the world, Monopoly made the transition from an American pastime to a global language that speaks volumes about politics today.

Tostado points out that the game was made famous by an unemployed man during the Great Depression. Originally an anti-capitalist game, Charles Darrow’s modified version puts a positive spin on buying everything in sight and bankrupting all those around you. Now, as a mascot for capitalism, Monopoly represents a fantastical view of capitalism’s true meaning. In a game where the object is to force the other players into bankruptcy by making self-serving business deals, the comparison to U.S. economics is an easy one.

Though it may not have been the film’s intention to act as a looking glass into capitalism, director Kevin Tostado still fashions a dynamic and comprehensive film about a worldwide phenomenon that will undoubtedly survive for years to come. “Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story” will be showing through this Thursday at the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas.

Movie: Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story

Directed by: Kevin Tostado

Release Date: March 4

Grade: B