last weekend i played trivial pursuit with my friend dusty, his fiancee sheryl, and their friend kendall. usually i love playing trivial pursuit, but this was one of those games that goes on for so long that the fun is sucked right out of it and you eventually abandon it altogether. or, if you’re us, you pretend like dusty won the game when he didn’t so you can try out sheryl’s new harry potter-themed scene it game.
i’d never played a scene it game before, so i had no idea how high-tech and dvd-ified they are, though the title was a giveaway. i’m sort of a board-game purist, so this bothers me. as we were playing, i had this sudden and terrible vision of the future of board games, or rather the lack thereof. why have the board when you could put one on the screen? what’s the point of the dice or the cards when you could just press a button and have the dvd choose your questions for you at random? eventually games will all come on shiny discs, won’t they?
this harry potter game was a hybrid of a traditional board game and my terrible vision of the future. you had to roll the dice, move some spaces, and then roll another die to determine your category. some of the questions were on the dvd, and some were on cards. none of the questions pertained to the harry potter books at all; they were about the movies. this was disappointing to all four of us, but none more so than me, as i think the books are wonderful but the movies are cgi-bloated, uneven shadows of the original material. i saw the first three movies but have no plans to see any of the others.*
but we played the game anyway, though the rules were a bit convoluted and the questions were much too easy for us (what kind of creature is buckbeak? please). kendall and i were on one team, dusty and sheryl were on the other. at one point dusty and sheryl’s roll meant that kendall and i had to read them a card question from the muggle category. the muggle category, we discovered, contained questions about the actors in the movies. i read dusty and sheryl the question. paraphrased: the actor who plays ron weasley and the one who plays cornelius fudge were in a movie together before harry potter. what was it called?
none of us had any idea what the answer was, but dusty and sheryl talked it over anyway while kendall and i looked at the back of the card.
the answer to the question was thunderpants.
reading that probably didn’t make you laugh as hard as kendall and i did, but trust me. it was funny. we laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe. we laughed for so long that my face hurt and my stomach muscles ached. i think it was probably all the beers we had, but damn, was it funny. suffice it to say, thunderpants was by far the best thing about the harry potter scene it game.
*i wrote an email today on this very topic:
i really, really like the harry potter books. it’s character-driven fantasy, which is the only way i’ll take my fantasy (or sci-fi, for that matter). throughout the series the main characters have evolved in a way that’s both touching and believable, and the twists and turns in the plot are pretty well earned. i’ve especially enjoyed watching rowling evolve and grow as a writer. her prose has improved exponentially throughout the series. i always liked it, even in the beginning, but now i think it’s pretty amazing.
the harry potter movies, on the other hand, embody all the very worst things about hollywood: they’re campy, overlong, and bloated with cartoonish CGI. the creators try to cram every single book plot point into each film, and in doing so they abandon all attempts to give the film itself any cohesiveness or semblance of narrative flow. it’s difficult to adapt a film from a book in the first place, let alone from a book that everyone has read, but still.