Commentary: The Many Perspectives Of ‘Free Guy’

by Frank Martin

It’s one of the weird aspects about storytelling that its success or failure depends on the viewer’s perspective. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the same goes for a story. Nobody two people experience a movie, book, or video game in the exact same way. They can have wildly different opinions about the same media. And these thoughts can vary even greater depending on the complexity and multiple layers which a story is built on.

The Ryan Reynolds film Free Guy is it great example of how this can be. Its plot moves in many directions at once and can be quite difficult to follow. But underlying the silly jokes and gamer humor is a deep philosophical exercise about free will, existentialism, the meaning of life, and the pursuit of happiness. Countless analytical reports and philosophical musings can be written about the film’s core themes and what we can learn from them when applied to our own lives. And this doesn’t even touch upon the sci-fi ramifications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. There’s a lot to take away from the movie depending on your perspective upon viewing it. And still, from the most basic of interpretations, the entire story can be summed up as one man’s journey to get out of the friend zone. Seriously. Every single action and event can be traced back to that one simple truth.

So which is it? Is Free Guy a complex sci-fi movie? Or a philosophical minefield? Or just a comedy about a guy trying to get laid? What makes a good story is that it can be just one of those things or all of them, and it is all based on the viewer’s opinion. The film, like all art, is what it is. It’s made. It’s finished. And in a way, we are the ones who become artists while viewing it as our thoughts and perspectives fill in the gaps — and even those opinions aren’t set in stone. People can revisit works of art throughout periods of their lives and see if their perspective has changed. Perhaps decades from now, events, both personal and global, can reshape a viewing experience. And that is what makes storytelling such an engaging and fluid practice.

Free Guy is streaming now on Disney+.

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