For the Movie Buff in Us All

MovieBuff - Wargames 2

If you’re anything like me, you have oodles of useless movie trivia in your brain. It sits there doing no one any good until you’re at a party and you overhear someone saying, “Who that actress from the Scream movies?” Of course you then cut your friend off mid-sentence to lean over and say, “Neve Campbell or Rose McGowan?” You go on to tell them that Randy Meeks was one of the coolest movie characters of all time, and then you say very loudly, “There’s a formula to it. A very simple formula! Everybody’s a suspect!”

At this point multiple heads turn in your direction because they want to see who’s making the party more awesome by doing a spot-on Jamie Kennedy impression. Maybe you get a round of applause. Maybe just head nods. Depends on the people you party with. The problem is moments like this don’t happen all that often, and your mad movie knowledge goes unrecognized. Well there’s finally a solution to this problem, and it’s called Movie Buff.

Movie Buff is a movie trivia card game invented by a talented dude named Justin Purvis. I’ve been learning and practicing improv for the last two years, and last spring I had the pleasure of being taught by Justin. He was a super fun teacher, who revealed himself to also be a major film enthusiast and movie buff. Now I’ve been called a movie buff before, and I always try to slink away from the title. I love movies, but there are gaps so wide in my mental movie database, that Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves could drive a speeding bus through it while Jason Patric slowly follows behind on a cruise ship. But Justin is the real deal, a true movie master. He’s acted in, produced and written movies, and now he has this game. He recently launched a Kickstarter for it, so that he can get it into the hands (and hearts) of every other movie nerd fan.

There are several reasons why I love the fact that Justin is doing this. First and foremost, it’s a damn exciting game. At its heart it’s about connecting one movie to another for as long as possible, while testing your knowledge on actors, movie quotes, movie titles and movie characters.

Here’s the fast and dirty on the rules:

  • Every player gets a shuffled mixture of Trivia and Strategy cards for a total of 10 cards.
  • There are four Trivia cards: Movie, Actor, Role, and Quote. If you play a Movie card, you name a movie. If you play a Quote card, you recite a quote. And so on.
  • The game is played in rounds, also known as Takes, and the goal of each Take is to lay down at least one of all four Trivia cards, with each card being tied to one specific movie. Once all four Trivia cards are played, a new Take begins and a new movie is selected.
  • Gameplay moves in a clockwise circle, with each player laying down either one Trivia or Strategy card at a time. The first card played must be a Trivia card. There are four strategy cards:
    • Take 5 allows you to take a break, and the gameplay skips you. (Handy if you don’t know an answer or if you know the person after you, doesn’t know it.)
    • Reverse Angle reverses the gameplay direction.
    • A Cut card effectively resets the game from the beginning. The next player starts a new Take.
    • An Edit card allows you to start the next Take without getting all four of the trivia cards.
  • If a player doesn’t know an answer or if his answer is successfully challenged, he picks up another card from the deck.
  • The first person to play all their cards wins the game.


Now allow me to paint a picture of what an average game might look like:

  • Let’s say the first player lays down an Actor card. He can think of any movie actor in history and then say that actor’s name. Because he’s a hip guy, he says, “Keanu Reeves.”
  • Player Two lays down a Quote card. She can now say any quote from any movie Keanu Reeves has been in. Thankfully Keanu has many movies to choose from. She says, “He’s not coming back.”
  • Player Three has no idea what movie that quote comes from. Rather than guessing and having to pick up another card, he plays a Take 5 card and gameplay moves to the next player.
  • Player Four knows the movie being referenced and so she plays a Movie card and says, “Point Break.”
  • Player Five then throws down a Role card and shouts, “Johnny Omaha bitches!”
  • At this point Player One excitedly challenges. The table agrees that Johnny Omaha is not a character in Point Break. Player Five takes back his Role card, draws another card and shoots a nasty glance at Player One.
  • If Player One plays a Role card, this will end the Take, but he doesn’t have one. So he plays an Actor card and says, “Anthony Kiedis” secretly hoping that Player Two will be impressed by his decision not to go with Swayze or Busey.
  • Player Two, who has friend-zoned Player One for five years now and occasionally hooks up with Player Five, drops a Role card and says, “Johnny Utah.”
  • This ends the first Take. Player Three must start another one. But he can’t just start with any movie he wants. Some actor from Point Break was in another movie. It is from those movies that Player Three must base his next Trivia card. He knows that Patrick Swayze was in Point Break and in Dirty Dancing and because he used to have the biggest crush on Jennifer Grey and hated the idea of her being limited by her parents, he plays a Quote card and says, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
  • Now every Trivia card played in this round must be based on Dirty Dancing. Gameplay goes on and on, with each Take changing the movie in question, until finally (spoiler alert) Player Five throws down his last card (which must be a Trivia card) and gets it right, thus becoming winner of the game. He tosses a haughty look at Player One, and Player One then realizes he doesn’t really like Player Five and never really has.

***Justin and Movie Buff are not responsible for any realizations you come to about your friends.***

My class of wacky improvisers had a blast playing Movie Buff, even the ones who didn’t consider themselves big movie fans. They simply had to play more strategically.

Sadly, I did not win at Movie Buff, which brings me to the second reason why I’m a fan of this Kickstarter: Justin is based out of NJ now and I live in DC, so if I ever want to play this game again and legitimately earn the title of movie buff, I need him to earn his goal amount. Then the next time I’m out and about and someone says, “Ask Nic, he knows movies,” I’ll be able to look them in the eye and say, “Why, yes I do. I won a trivia game.” I can’t do that unless Movie Buff becomes a mass-produced reality.

There is, still, a third reason why I came out of blog hibernation to write about this game: I admire the hell out entrepreneurialism. To take an idea that only existed in one person’s head and make it a reality for others to experience and enjoy is truly a magical process. It’s a major reason why I love movies and art in the first place. That journey from conceptual to actual is the very stuff of humanity. Justin is taking a risk and trying to add excitement and enjoyment to our reality, and I find that so admirable.

Now I want you to go to Justin’s Kickstarter page where you can see the man describe Movie Buff better than I ever could. There you can also see the game played for yourself. And then if you’re a fan of movies, fun, strategy, a pioneering spirit, and bragging rights, donate all some of your money.

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