Under the Boardwalk: Doc Not Worth Your Monopoly Money

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Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story
Directed by Kevin Tostado
Rhino Films
Opens May 6, Quad Cinema

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In the brief segment of Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story devoted to the history of the classic board game, we learn that the popular pastime began life as an anti-capitalist exercise known as “The Landlord’s Game.” During the Depression, struggling salesman Charles Darrow flipped the original message to a celebration of rampant acquisitiveness, adapted the game to its current incarnation and changed the name to Monopoly. Although there are plenty of talking heads in Kevin Tostado’s breezy documentary who try to account for the game’s significance and ongoing popularity, almost no one seems interested in addressing Monopoly’s unabashed promotion of the most brutal aspects of capitalism, instead reveling in the opportunity the game provides to “bankrupt” opponents. Under the Boardwalk is, unsurprisingly, a celebration of all things Monopoly, from its role in American pop culture to the national and international tournaments it has spawned. Among the alleged virtues of the game cited by the doc’s subjects are its ability to bring people together, its usefulness as a tool to indoctrinate (er, teach) children, and its building of a global culture, this last expressed through the special delight with which the narrator notes the prevalence of Monopoly champs in the former Eastern bloc. Take that, Communism!

 
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