1 out of 5
Directed by: Rob McCallum
Uh, o… okay?
Let me get something out of the way up front: I am a completely uninteresting, normal dude. I have my quirks, sure, and in a one to one conversation maybe you and I can find some ground to chat about, and maybe we’ll find some unique chatty alleyway to wander down, but there’s nothing unique about me. And, like, I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay that there are interesting people with interesting stories, and that I’m not one of those people.
Nintendo Quest is akin so me making a cellphone video of my uninteresting self doing uninteresting things. My filmmaking would be offhand and unfocused; my day-to-day habits might engender occasional “oh, I do that too,” nods, but I cannot imagine – beyond some voyeuristic element – this being worth anyone’s time.
Game collecting and game history is interesting, but neither of these things are necessarily unexplored nowadays, with lots of books and video series and movies covering that ground. Still, one can take a frequently visited topic and spruce it up significantly, given there’s a worthwhile narrative to hang it around, or focused filmmaking / storytelling in the presentation.
Or you can be filmmaker Rob McCallum, who has tasked his friend, Jay, with collecting every official Nintendo game within 30 days, without the use of the internet, and will film it. Okay, that’s a fun idea for some friends; is it a fun idea for viewers? For 90 minutes? Rob and Jay seem like nice guys, but they’re kinda like me: completely uninteresting dudes. There’s no camera presence here, on either side of the lens. Director Rob pops in with some supplementary history and interviews with other collectors and whatnot, but they’re not especially inspired, featuring the expected video game bleeps and bloops for sound effects and the interviewees’ soundbites far from ground breaking revelations or even convincing statements regarding their passions. The bits where we follow Jay around to gaming stores are repetitive, and you get the sense that Rob is trying to coach Jay into making the journeys and interactions a bit more dynamic – coaching sessions which fall flat. It’s competently captured stuff, but without personality.
As to the goal – what are the stakes? Why is this a big deal? It’s just a bet between friends; there’s nothing hanging on this, and even Jay’s mutterings about nostalgia wander off as he searches for poignant things to say, of which he has none. (It’s okay, dude, you are average, just like me, and we are not poignant.) The pointlessness of this pursuit is especially pungent at the almost hilariously anticlimactic conclusion, where Jay talks about the game he absolutely wants the most, that would mean the most to him, and which is, natch, the rarest Nintendo game – Stadium Events – but there’s no clear line drawn to why it would mean the most to him. …Except that it’s rare. Try to connect this to a story Jay tells earlier about his dad not liking that he played video games, or his obsession with Dave Grohl: there is none. There’s no story here. And so there’s no real movie, either.