Sunday, May 8, 2011

GPS: The Movie

A few weeks ago I was flipping through my TV guide when I came across GPS: The Movie.  The description told me everything I needed to know:
College students play a treasure-hunting game that contains a deadly mystery.

It had started about 20 minutes prior, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  The scene-in-progress was of two British women in a dark car, chatting about something.  Ok, it's a night cache, neat, I thought, until the passenger says, "Yeah, because I'm a freaking vampire."  Wait...what?  Turns out the TV guide was wrong and GPS had shown three hours earlier.  Doh.  Luckily, it was scheduled (correctly) to play at 2:30am, so I set the Tivo and went about my day.

Before I get into the movie, I should point out that GPS isn't actually about geocaching.  No where in the movie do they mention caches, Groundspeak, FTFs, or anything of the stuff we have grown to love.  My theory is that someone (the writer, director, etc) learned about geocaching, but thought it could be improved with the following formula:
Geocaching GPS Treasure Hunt
+ Hot college students.
+ Treasure the finder keeps.
- Bras.
- Nerds, old people, fat people, soccer moms, and children.
- Geo-lingo (muggles, micros, nanos, bison tubes, etc).
+ Wet t-shirts, guns, and car chases.
+ Murrrrrderrrrr.
= Awesome-sauce backdrop for a pseudo-slasher film.

The film opens with a car chase, which apparently is the first lesson in Audience Grabbing 101.  Two pairs of hunters race towards a newly-posted treasure.  Poor college students Bob and Andrew are in one car, redneck couple Sam and Frankie are in the other.  In a display of careless driving, Andrew tries to overtake the other car and nearly crashes head-on into a car containing bickering, blond-headed children.  "That was awesome," says a young boy from the backseat.    

Sam and Frankie's car screetches to a hault and they pile out.  In response, Andrew stops his car by performing a Tokyo-Drift type maneuver.  Everyone darts into the trees.  The coordinates lead them to a river and a waterfall where they all end up soaked (especially the bra-less, white tank-top clad Frankie), but no one is concerned about their GPSr getting wet.  I know some GPSr units are waterproof, but I still wouldn't go swimming with one. 

After Bob finds the cache...err, treasure, they squabble about who gets to claim it:
"C'mon man, it's just a game," says Bob.
Sam retorts, "IS it?? Is it just a game?...Why don't you use that GPS to find yourself some balls?!"
You might want to give that phrase some time to sink in.

When Bob and Andrew go home to log the find, we learn two things.  1) Their roomate spent the night with TWO girls, and 2) They have a new treasure invitation, and it's from a fellow "hunter" who has been on the lamb after stealing a large sum of money.  After a momentary debate, they decide to accept the invitation and take of their non-hunting buddies along for a weekend of drinking, hiking...and drinking.  And, as they soon find out, murrrrderrrr.

Things get weird when they start the hike, but are confronted by a batty Park Ranger who warns them about bears.  Every time this guy shows up thoughout the movie he is louder, weirder, and bloodier.  A few hours into the hike, they find the treasure - a small coffin containing photos of a woman, bound and gagged.  The last photo contains coordinates.

Surprise, surprise, they decide to pursue.  What follows is an hour of film that includes stabbing, suffocating, banging, screaming, crying, beating, accusing, kissing, finger-pointing, and, of-course shooting (both with guns and bows).  The whole thing ends with a Scooby-Doo style "meddling kids" speech, as well as a final scene that hints at a GPS2, though this has yet to be green lighted (green lit?).

Final verdict?  I rate it a 3.0/3.0  (entertainment/goofiness).  I laughed, a lot.  That probably was not the intended reaction, but that's what happened.  It was a great movie to watch while I was cooking dinner and cleaning my kitchen.  Most of all, I appreciate that the writers/producers/directors tried to shine a badass-light on geocaching/treasure hunting, a light which we so rarely get to bask in.

Could it have been a better movie?  In almost every way.  They could have written jokes that were actually funny or dialogue that was actually clever instead of giving-in to adolescent jabbing and innane chatter.  I also got the impression that the writers not-so-secretly felt the whole premise was based on a stupid nerd-game.  It's kind of like when you interact with a young child and you know their imaginary friend doesn't exist, but you play along anyway, no matter how ridiculous it feels. In other words, they cranked the machismo and sexual tension to detract-from/compensate-for the inherent geekiness of a tech-based game.   Or maybe the whole thing was completely tongue-in-cheek and I just didn't get it. 

All of that being said, it definitely could have been a lot worse.  Overall it was enjoyable in a silly kind of way, and if it shows up on your TV guide, find yourself some balls and give it a shot.