Released by Disney through their 20th Century Studios banner, Free Guy (2021) is an ode to the value of intellectual properties and their creators. Ironically, even though the film idealizes the independent creator whilst vilifying corporate behemoths, Disney takes full advantage of every available moment to promote, via a direct visual or auditory reference, their own intellectual properties. For a corporation that collects IPs like Pokémon producing a film like Free Guy is an act of total hypocrisy.
Free Guy is essentially The Truman Show (1998) transposed into the world of online video games such as Fortnite. Free Guy lacks any of the intelligence, wit and charm of The Truman Show. Instead Free Guy opts to trade in vaguely sentimental gestures acted out by a cast that appears totally adrift in the film. At the core there is Ryan Reynolds who is very rarely funny in anything but who, in Free Guy, takes his blithering brand of idiocy too heights that Jerry Lewis couldn’t even dream of. Then there is the villainous tech-mogul played by Taika Waititi whose choices are so much bigger and cartoonish than anything else in the “real world” within the film that one feels he was imported from a scrapped Martin Short comedy produced in the early nineties. Lastly we have Jodie Comer, as the secondary lead and love interest for Ryan Reynolds, whose performance is the best thing about the film and lightyears beyond the performative capabilities of Reynolds and Waititi.
Free Guy is such and empty and despicable film. All of the spectacle, all of the sentiment, all of the clowning and the millions of dollars that this all costs is designed to pander to Disney’s devoted toxic fanbase. The Disney company has been pilfering the arts for IPs since before Walt himself felt pangs of sympathy for the Nazis. What Disney does is the equivalent of fracking. And now, with all of the mergers and buy-outs, Disney is poised for what seems like a monopoly. Yet in Free Guy they champion the underdog, the struggling creator, the everyman? It’s disgusting and unforgivable.