"See, I Have this Condition..."
The rules are pretty standard. The game is difficult because in order to enjoy this movie, you have to pay close attention to EVERYthing said.
Memento launched Christopher Nolan's career, and as a first major hit, it's fantastic. Its compelling story, small but mighty main cast, tight plotting and all around sense of creepy make it an incredible piece of film. However, all of the elements that make it a wonderful movie make it a...challenging film to drink to. By the time you get to the end, you might not remember enough to be shocked by the thrilling twists and turns the film throws at you.
While this does put you in good company with our hero, it's not company you should share on a first viewing. This game is a brain teaser, as well as a timed relay. How far can you get into the movie playing this game before it stops making sense?
"(I Destroyed my Favorite) Memento (While I was Drunk): The Rules
1. Drink for Title Drops.
2. Drink when they drink.
3. Drink for Daddy Issues
4. Drink when Lenny tattoos himself or writes himself a note.
5. Drink when Teddy appears. Because he is a frightening man.
6. Drink at the beginning of every black-and-white scene.
All of the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when Lenny mentions his wife.
2. Drink whenever Lenny takes a picture of something.
All of the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink whenever the movie takes a leap backwards in time. So basically at the beginning of any scene that's not black-and-white.
2. Drink whenever Lenny, with his condition, places himself in a potentially dangerous situation.
Some Guy: Rates this movie ten out of ten (Easy)
Shirley Whiskas: Thinks Lenny's wife would have left him anyway (Hard)
Flux: Thought this movie was very straightforward. (Hard)
This movie subverted my formulas about as well as it subverted traditional narrative. Join us in the Memento drinking game!
Beginning with the Ending
Our group of players was split right down the middle in terms of who had seen the movie before and who had not. So in order to preserve the final twist for the uninitiated, I devised a special rule:
If a person watching the movie spoils the ending, they must finish their drink. If a person who has not seen the movie guesses the ending, everyone must take three drinks.
This rule managed to keep all of us in the present, focused on what unfolded in front of us as it happened instead of trying to tie it all together. However, when the ending finally came, I realized (to the movie's credit) exactly how difficult it is to guess. There are actually several bits of truth that make the final scene so breathtaking, and guessing out one aspect of the whole is futile. Even if you're right, it doesn't mean much out of context.
I'm attempting to veil any kind of spoilers in this article (although, this movie came out thirteen years ago. Go watch it, already). I will say that while this rule didn't come into play for us, it's a good rule to use for any landmark movie you want to play a drinking game for. Say you have a friend who for some reason does not know the twist of "The Sixth Sense." If you're willing to take the hit early on and spoil the ending for that soul, this gives you a head start on the road to drunkville. Or, if you're watching a movie with a particularly predictable ending, you could guess it and give everyone an extra couple drinks. The choice, my friends, is yours.
Our Big Three
I had seen the movie before. I was sure this was true. Daddy has no presence at all in this movie, and the title, "Memento", is never said out loud, as it is a thematic title that doesn't have to do with any specific plot point.
Unfortunately, about half an hour into the movie, Guy Pearce offers Carrie-Anne Moss a drink of water, and she takes it. And so my hopes were dashed.
I am SO disappointed. If anybody knows a movie or television show that doesn't use any of our base three rules, please tell me. I'm dying to hear about it.
The Audience is Listening
The film, for the most part, assumes that our audience is intelligent, and can follow the throughline of the movie, screwy as it may be, as well as can be expected. Which is why I was baffled by one particular choice the movie made:
The damn voiceovers.
"I find them adorable," said Big Moose once I expressed my distaste.
"But I do wish we could toggle them on and off," Flux added.
I guess my main problem with the voiceovers is that they're not consistent. The ones I have an issue with are the ones that are directed towards himself. Very occasionally, Guy Pearce's voice will sound out while the words he is speaking are very clearly written on screen. This kind of self-explanation takes it from a classic noir technique to a somewhat clumsy method of clarification.
Some Guy pointed out that one of the cool things about this movie is that there is no reliable narrator. The voiceover masks that, and gives Leonard a little more authority than he actually deserves to have.
Leonard is living in perpetual hell. Every fifteen minutes or so, he is hauled back to just after his wife's brutal murder and forced to recollect all the "facts" he has gathered to aid his revenge plot so far. Sometimes this is exploited for comedy, like when he "awakes" with a bottle of booze in his hand, or next to a woman in bed.
We do not like Leonard. In fact, we like Leonard less and less as the film goes on. He's an asshole. But we can't help but admire him. Several times an hour, he is faced with the news that his wife is dead and he is searching for her killer. He has to trust his own handwriting, but more importantly, he has to act fast, because every second he waits is one second closer to forgetting everything. He never stalls. He rarely wallows in his emotions. He is the definition of an active protagonist.
Of course, we the audience know that very few true things are said either by Leonard or to Leonard, but Leonard is going on faith alone. He believes himself to be trustworthy, so he follows his own advice. Guy Pearce manages to put across the innocence of short-term memory loss coupled with the cold certainty of a man who has never doubted himself for an instant.
Which of course makes the ENDING...
Jesus Christ, please watch this movie already, you're killing me with your ignorance.
Drink whenever Guy Pearce has his shirt off.
"It's like it's in his contract," Flux marveled. On our count, Leonard was shirtless more often than not. Which in turn made me question who the movie's target audience was.
Drink whenever Leonard mentions Sammy Jankis.
As Teddy likes to point out, Leonard likes to mention good ol' Sammy Jankis whenever he gets the chance. Drink for impending doom.
Drink for physical violence.
As is the case with most revenge plots, a lot of people get hurt. But all the same, alcohol disinfects most wounds.
Thanks again for joining us! Next week we're tackling a television classic. Finally, something that won't be creepy or depressing for a change.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). Video footage is taken by Pooh Daddy (Vincent Graham) and edited by Seb (Amy Yourd). All "Memento" images are owned by NewMarket Films and Columbia TriStar Productions.