“Scene It”: A Rather Trivial Movie Trivia Game

If you’ve lately spent any time in a toy store, you’ve no doubt noted the highly promoted “Scene It” series of movie trivia games. If you’re a novice at movie trivia, then you may enjoy this simplistic turn at an interactive game that incorporates the use of DVD clips with the traditional board game. However, if you have even the most remote knowledge of all things movies, you’ll more likely be bored than entertained.

As a big fan of the cinema, I am on the constant lookout for any and all new or interesting venues of movie trivia. Many years ago I was excited when the makers of the original “Trivial Pursuit” game came out with a classic “Silver Screen” edition. The questions were all of varying interests in a multitude of categories covering antics on, off and behind the scenes of movies spanning decades from “Birth of a Nation” to “Star Wars”. I found the game to be full of terrific information and I used it as an educational tool, often in a flashcard fashion. It was a challenging game — in fact, too challenging for the general public. Most people found the game too difficult to play, prompting the makers to stop further production. Today, the “Trivial Pursuit, Silver Screen Edition” can only be found online, and I treasure my set, perusing it on a regular basis. All future ventures into the realm of movie trivia would indeed have a high set of standards to meet.

More recently, I was introduced to the “Scene It” series of trivia games through a promotional spot on TCM. Initially I was extremely intrigued by the idea of a new resource for classic movie trivia. I was especially impressed because it was being promoted as the “TCM Edition”, complete with Golden Age of Cinema-inspired artwork and game pieces, all tied together with a DVD introduction to the game by notable film aficionado and TCM host, Robert Osborne. I felt certain that this had to be good. I guess that’s why I was so terribly disappointed.

The idea of “Scene It” is to play a traditional style game with rolling dice and little pieces marking your progress as you advance across the reel-to-reel shaped board. The twist to the traditional is the addition of film clips that play off a waiting DVD. When the category is selected by the luck of the dice, you make the same selection from the DVD menu and a clip is randomly selected. After the scene is completed a question about what you have just viewed pops up on your television and you’re given a certain amount of time to answer. All in all, the format is a pretty clever idea for a game that requires you to call upon your knowledge of a visual medium.

Unfortunately, for a real classic film fan, “Scene It” falls far short of being any kind of a challenge. Admittedly, I am more of a film buff than the average person, so I tried out the game with players who had varying degrees of film knowledge. Long story short, I never even got a chance to play. Once the first of my opponents rolled the dice, she answered the question very easily and took another turn. At first it appeared as if she was just lucky to get questions about films with which she was very familiar. But as she continued to answer one stultifying simple question after another she traveled across the board so quickly that most of our time was spent waiting for the ridiculously long movie clips to run their full course.

As stylish and unique as the game is, it’s just not any kind of a challenge for the average film fan. Even the original version of “Scene It”, that focuses on much more recent films, asks questions that are so simplistic and basic that one would only have had to see a commercial or trailer for the film in order to know the answer. And that’s really too bad, because it makes the game rather uninteresting when you can answer everything so immediately. There’s no level of competition involved, and that means it’s no longer a game, but merely a conversation piece.

I suppose if you really don’t go to the movies that often or are a younger player, you may find the game to be amusing. Or, if you’re interested in introducing someone to the classics, this game could be used as an educational tool. But if you would like to enjoy a good solid game of trivia that will challenge your knowledge and bring out a healthy streak of competitiveness, then I suggest you stick to the gold standard and do an Internet search to find an available edition of the “Trivial Pursuit, Silver Screen Edition”. After about twenty years, it’s still the best thing out there, and unlikely to be out matched in another twenty.

Rating: D+