In his brand new movie Free Guy, Ryan Reynolds stars as a non-playable character (NPC) living inside a video game, whose world is turned upside down when an encounter with the woman of his dreams causes him to become self-aware.
While the film might not be based on an actual existing game, it has certainly been influenced by real-world pop culture, with a whole host of Easter Eggs thrown in for fans to enjoy.
The movie features a huge number of Twitch streamers and YouTubers, many of whom are considered a major part of the gaming community – with the likes of Jacksepticeye, Ninja, Pokimane, DanTDM and LazarBeam all making appearances to comment on the action over the course of the film.
Meanwhile, several of the video game characters are also played by high-profile actors, with Channing Tatum given a particularly memorable role and the likes of Hugh Jackman, Dwayne Johnson, Tina Fey and John Krasinski all making cameo voice appearances.
And that’s not even mentioning the presence of late Jeopardy host Alex Trebek in one scene, or the appearance of a major franchise star during a surprise crossover sequence that fans probably won’t see coming.
Many of the Easter Eggs are on a smaller scale, though – taking place in the background and relating simply to common video game behaviours, such as accidentally walking up against a wall, or the indifference with which many background characters treat the violence and chaos around them.
“This movie was about threading the needle between wanting to represent the gaming world correctly and accurately,” director Shawn Levy told RadioTimes.com and other press at a recent Q&A. “And for that I spoke with a lot of game publishers, coders and game designers, and played and watched a lot of games in pre-production, so getting that right was really important.”
“I actually think we’ve done a great job at giving a really great nod to video game culture,” added star Joe Keery. “There are so many funny little things.
“I mean, I’m not a huge gamer myself, but there’s this great shot in the movie and it’s during this montage sequence. You see this character in the background is played by real-life person and you know, in those first-person shooter games, when people crouch, there’s this very specific funny motion and it means something.
“And so we see this character do that in the background. It’s just like a small one or two-second thing, but it’s really funny and dead-on. And I think it speaks to the whole culture of giving a good tip of the hat to the video game culture.”
As for star Jodie Comer, there was one in-joke that she particularly liked: “I really enjoyed noticing the people who were constantly running against the wall,” she said. “I’ve been there so many times. I was like, that’s so true!”
Meanwhile, Utkarsh Ambudkar who also stars in the film, says, “As somebody who plays a lot and logs a lot of hours in that space, it really is true to that world and the people that occupy it – it’s very fun. We’ve got Ninja, LazarBeam and a ton of great people from the video game community all part of the movie, who I think folks are going to be really excited to see.”