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Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story - Movie Review - 2010

It's All About Monopoly

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Monopoly is arguably the world's most popular board game. Almost everyone has played it. And, as we see in Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story, some players are obsessed with the game.

Produced during 2009, and set within the context of the annual World Monopoly Championship Competition, the documentary recounts the game's history and its proliferation to some 110 countries, each with its own location-specific edition, and introduces some of the interrnational players who participate and prosper in the competition.

Winner Take All

Contestants from 41 countries enter the Monopoly competition. Most are national champions. Each has a personal game style, and a favorite token. Each is fierce.

They come to Las Vegas for the competition, and many are visiting the U.S. for the first time. The film follows several of the most alert and avid -- and lucky -- players as they rise through various elimination rounds to reach the semi-finals. No spoilers, but the survivors include a Norwegian student and a Mexican family man who has saved up for the trip, as well as first timer Richard Marinaccio, a lawyer from upstate New York.

One of the most interesting contestants is Tim Vandenberg, a public school math teacher who uses Monopoly to instruct his students about statistics and probability, and teach them negotiation skills. Vandenberg's techniques cleverly capitalize on the game in a way that's not surprising. Afterall, for many children around the world, playing Monopoly is their first experience with handling 'money' and learning how to use it. Vandenberg is adored by his students, but some of the competitors accuse him of cheating. There's drama in that conflict.

The History Of Monopoly

While building tension about who'll become the Monopoly champ, director Kevin Tostado provides a fascinating history of the game, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010.

Contrary to popular assumption, Parker Brothers didn't create Monopoly. Nor did Charles Darrow, who redesigned it and sold it to Parker Brothers during the 1930s, when it provided fantasy relief for people impacted by the Depression.

Actually, the game originated in 1903 as The Landlord's Game, created by Elizabeth Magie, who saw the cutthroat winner-take-all goal as an anti-capitalist message. Ha!

Tostado interviews avid Monopoly collectors who are emotionally connected to the game and consider boxed sets -- including rare sports or show biz editions, and those in other languages with different alphabets -- as works of art. The different editions are indeed intriguing. And, antique editions really are priceless.

Whether you play or not, you'll be game for this documentary, which reveals Monopoly's global impact in a most entertaining way.

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Film Details:

  • Title: Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story
  • Director: Kevin Tostado
  • Theatrical Release Date: May 6, 2011 (limited)
  • Running Time: 88 mins.
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • Parents Advisory: Advisory for content
  • Location: Las Vegas and other US cities, plus Norway, Mexico and elsewhere
  • Language: English
  • Official Website
  • Trailer

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