Leonard Maltin, who teaches at the School of Cinematic arts at USC, is a movie critic whose name is well known to movie lovers from both his time on Entertainment Tonight and his annual editions of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide along with his many other books on film.
Maltin has a vast encyclopedic knowledge of film that is somewhat staggering. He has a particular style about his reviews, a brevity that makes him easy to read without seeming pompous. That a game named after him would be called King of Movies, and published by Mondo (they of Alamo Draft House fame), is only fitting.
What’s in the Box?
King of the Movies: The Leonard Maltin Game comes with 300 double-sided Leoanrd Maltin review cards, with actual Maltin reviews, bringing the total tally of reviews to 600. It also has six-player sleeves to put the player’s fake reviews in, along with a pad of Maltin review paper to write them on. There are 36 player tokens and 108 Crown Score tokens, but the creme de la creme has to be the paper King of Movies Crown ala old school Burger King.
How Does It play?
King of Movies is a game for 3-4 players. One of whom is chosen to be “The Maltin,” the DM/GM essentially. The other players are likewise known as “The Imposters.”
Whoever is The Maltin chooses a Maltin review card, slips it into one of the player sleeves, and tells the others the title. After selecting the title, The Maltin makes sure no one has seen the movie or knows anything about the synopsis. If a player(s) have, then The Maltin chooses another title.
The Imposters then write down their name, the title, and what they think the movie’s synopsis might be. Now here’s the catch: it must be in the style of Leonard Maltin.
The object is to try and fool the others into thinking that your review is the Leonard Maltin review.
Imposters then take their reviews, slip them into their player sleeves, and hand them to The Maltin. The Maltin then reads the reviews aloud, including the actual Maltin review, and the players vote on which one is the genuine one.
The goal is to fool the other Imposters into choosing your review over the actual Maltin.
Players can not mention the year, runtime, ratings, or any of the cast and crew. If they must use an actor’s name, then they must use the last name only. To do so otherwise would single your review for a surefire phony since none of the genuine Maltin review cards have any of this information.
The Maltin shuffles the player’s sleeves and lays them out, assigning each review a number before reading each of them aloud. Players then take a player token and place it before them face down. The player token corresponds with the review the player believes to be the genuine Maltin.
The Maltin then identifies which review is the real one and the players flip over their player tokens to reveal their choice. The Maltin then goes on to tell which Imposters wrote which fake review.
Each correct guess gets two crown tokens. If a player’s fake review is chosen, then they get one crown token. If none of the fake reviews are selected, then The Maltin gets two crown tokens.
Smaller groups keep going until each player has been The Maltin twice. Larger groups play until everyone has been The Maltin once. Whoever has the most crown tokens at the end gets the Crown.
The beauty of King of Movies is its versatility. Its design is such that you can play by the rules or merely go around reading the synopsis and try guessing the title. Or, read the title and have people try and guess what it’s about Maltin style be damned.
To call King of Movies a niche game is an understatement. It is a game that caters to a particular type of movie lover—the type who reads reviews and can recognize different styles between critics. If you’re the type of person who only goes to the movies for big event films, King of Movies is not for you.
The average person may enjoy this game, but there’s a mixture of specificity and broad curiosity of movies outside the mainstream blockbusters that won’t appeal to everyone. For myself, I’m someone who can watch the British panel show Would I Lie To You? for hours on end, so a game where I’m essentially asked to fake it until I make it is right up my alley.
Heck, even if you don’t have anyone to play with, you still have 600 Maltin cards you can peruse through and discover new movies you may never have heard of. I mean, come on, Face of the Screaming Werewolf is a banger title that has my interest piqued. Or maybe you’re one of those who can’t help but be curious about a movie titled Swamp Women.
Either way, King of Movies is the rare game made for critics and future critics alike.
Images courtesy of Mondo Games and South Park
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