I’m just not afraid of snakes. I’ve had snakes for pets and think they are awesome creatures, so if a movie is going to have snakes be objects of fear, it’s going to have to sell that concept really well. The “black mamba in the house” thriller Fair Game does not do that.
Frankly, I’m not sure even ophidiophobes could find Fair Game thrilling, or even interesting. It takes a decent premise and competent actors and gives us a movie that leaves you checking your watch multiple times even though the film’s barely 80 minutes long.
A car drives through the desert as cheesy 1980s synth music plays (get used to cheesy 80s music, you’ll be hearing a lot of it). The driver arrives at the home of tattooed snake farmer Bill Moseley (all young and baby-faced!) who sells the driver a black mamba. Genre fans take note: This is Moseley’s only scene in the film, and though he’s good, he doesn’t make the rest of this movie worth watching.
Turns out that the driver is a rich electronics whiz who’s still angry about being left by his ladyfriend, an oh-so-kooky artistic type. Personally, I think these two are better off being rid of each other. Mr. Creepy (Gregg Henry) is a cold, controlling guy with serious anger issues. Ms. Annoying (Trudie “Mrs. Sting” Styler) is a free spirit who sculpts octopi out of Play-Doh and talks to her pet turtles. Wait, I take that back – they should stay together so they don’t inflict themselves on unsuspecting people.
Anyway, Mr. Creepy drops in on Ms. Annoying and after some vague yet long-winded talk about their failed relationship, he leaves, but not before (a) setting the black mamba loose in her apartment and (b) rigging the front door so it can’t be opened. Did I mention that in addition to being incredibly huge, Ms. Annoying’s house has just the one door, and not a single window (and she’s an artist? Don’t they need, I don’t know, light to see what they’re doing?). Did I mention that Mr. Creepy has injected the mamba with hormones to make it extra-aggressive? Welcome to Plot Convenience Theater, folks!
The movie gets really tedious for a while as Ms. Annoying works on her Play-Doh sculptures, talks to herself, runs a bath, talks to herself, videotapes a “kiss off” message to Mr. Creepy, talks to herself, and eventually discovers there’s a mamba in her apartment. And then she cranks up the annoyingness as she tries to elude the mamba, which seems to have acquired the power of teleportation – no matter where she goes in her huge house, the snake is right there! And did I mention that Mr. Creepy is following the hijinks of Ms. Annoying and the mamba, on this ridiculous video game setup?
If you’ve ever wanted to see Sting’s wife run around in her underwear and throw lit matches at a snake, this is the movie for you.
Fair Game’s main problem is that the two main characters are so unappealing it’s hard to feel much interest in the situation (the black mamba, on the other hand, just oozes screen charisma and it’s a shame the screenplay didn’t have the mamba and Moseley go on some wacky adventures – I’d watch that movie). Moreover, it’s impossible to fathom what these two people ever saw in each other or how they’d have had the emotional investment that would explain why they’re so bitter now. And Ms. Annoying’s actions once she discovers the snake are just inexplicable – for example, she’s learned from some magazine clippings she just happens to have lying around that the mamba is attracted to adrenaline, so she creates MORE adrenaline by running madly around her house. By then I was rooting for the mamba.
The disc is in a pan-and-scan view only, and the sole extra is a trailer.