Making the Grades
Some people like board games and then there are those who take a friendly competition to a whole new level. On the 75th anniversary of the iconic game Monopoly, the documentary Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story introduces viewers to some of the participants from around the world who are wrangling for the title of Monopoly champion.
Among those contending to represent the U.S. at the quadrennial international event is the current champion Matt McNally, lawyer Richard Marinaccio and teacher Tim Vandenberg, who incorporates the board game into his sixth grade mathematics curriculum.
Narrated by Zachary Levi, the film also recounts the history of the game that began with an anti-capitalist agenda and ended up being about crushingyour opponent while amassing the most money, homes and hotels. However during WWII, the board was used to smuggle vital information into POW camps.
Complete with interviews from board game designer, author and Monopoly tournament judge Phil Orbanes, the film shows just how serious some people are about winning the top prize (which includes a moment in the spotlight with Mr. Monopoly himself). There are even records for the longest continuous game, both above water and below. But for some players, their passion comes at a cost in other areas of their lives.
Even if you’ve never contended over a game token (the race car is the favorite) or flipped the board in frustration, this documentary will open your eyes to all kinds of new insights on the game. For instance, there really are times when being in jail is a good idea. Playtime can also be significantly shortened with the introduction of a red speed die.
Played around the world and showcased in Hollywood films like Patriot Games, Spanglish and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the game is licensed in 103 countries and 37 languages. But even if your family isn’t ready to ramp up for a serious tournament, this film may encourage audience members to pull out one of the hundreds of available versions and play an in house match.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story.
Elizabeth Magie invented The Landlord’s Game that became the precursor to Monopoly. The game was designed to point out the flaws of land grabbing and instead promote social and economic justice among players. What do you think caused a change in direction in Monopoly?
What is your favorite game piece and why?
Do you think that the addition of a red speed die improves the game? Why or why not?