December 08, 2014


When I worked at NBC, one of my stranger tasks was to sit in a room with another programmer and come up with titles for theatrical movies that we had bought. These movies had bombed so badly at the box-office that they might have more commercial appeal if we renamed them so the audience wouldn't recognize them. My colleague Rod and I would brainstorm and start tossing out titles with abandon -- some of them were so ridiculous we couldn't stop laughing.

Playing Schmovie, "The Hilarious Game of Outlandish Films," brought back the same same sense of playfulness and silliness of those brainstorming sessions. You are given a "who" and a "what" card and a movie genre, and your job is to come up with a title to please "the producer" (another player who temporarily assumes Spielbergian-like power).

For example, you might have to come up with the title for a comedy featuring a constipated (what) princess (who). Now each player (or team) tries to come up with a title that will please the producer. It might be a play on words from an existing title ("The Miralax View"), a pun ("Prunestruck"), or randomly goofy ("The Sovereign Obstruction").

Part of the fun is the absolute power of the producer to judge. Somehow, your own contribution always seems the best, but just as in real life, producers come with their own (often bad) taste. But please, no whining!

Schmovie isn't for everyone, but for the folks who love it are passionate. It works best for folks who can laugh at themselves and be silly. Kids are less inhibited and can compete well. You don't need to be a movie expert, just someone who enjoys wordplay. If you have a hard time coming up with answers, then just make something up and write it down -- you'd be surprised how often the last minute flail ends up a winner.

Although as few as three people can play Schmovie (two friends and I had a blast playing), the more the merrier. Schmovie works well with teams, and even combination of singles and teams.

The creators of Schmovie, Sara Farber and Bryan Wilson, run a great Facebook page for Schmovie, where they post a new Schmovie six days a week and commenters compete for glory. Schmovie is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many independent game stores.