Best Player made its debut on March 12, 2011. The newest Nickelodeon original movie, it features Jennette McCurdy (Sam on iCarly) and Jerry Trainor (Spencer on iCarly) in leading roles. I had the good fortune to catch it the other night with my young teens- and I’m glad I did.
Jerry Trainor plays Quincy, a grown man who refuses to act like one, preferring instead to hang out with his friends and play video games. Perfectly happy living in his parents’ basement, he houses further evidence of his reluctance to embrace the world of adulthood- action figures still in their packaging, comic books, and other childhood toys. An avid multiplayer gamer, he is well known throughout the gaming world as “Q”- a superstar gamer.
Unfortunately, his parents decide that they want to move to Florida without him. As such, they decide to sell their house- forcing Quincy to find a place of his own. In an effort to prevent losing the house (and his awesome basement digs), he decides to compete in a video game championship featuring the game they all play together online (though they don’t know the person behind the gaming id), called “Black Hole”. The competition awards a $175,000 prize- an amount that could is just enough to purchase the house. To make it to the final competition, a deadline is set in which participants have to play the game and earn a certain score by a specific time. Quincy and his BFF plan to ensure his success by defeating his only real competition, another gamer named Prodigy.
Chris, played by McCurdy, is well known in the gaming world as well under the name Prodigy. The plan is to take her out of the competition by keeping her from qualifying. In this endeavor, Quincy begins dating her mom, so that he will have access to her gaming system on the qualifying day and be able to sabotage it. In a moment of desperation when asked about his job, he states that he's the home Economics teacher at Chris' school. This further endears him to her mom, and puts him in a better position to get close to her so that he can sabotage Chris' chances of qualifying.
Through a series of comical stunts, Quincy makes a good effort at preventing her from qualifying, but ultimately does not succeed. His only course of action, then, is to get her to drop out of the tournament- no easy task, as the only way to do this is to get her to want something even more. He realizes that the school’s prom is the same day as the competition, and plans to use that as the event to get her to quit. The problem? The boy she likes doesn’t even realize she’s alive, and she won’t go with anyone else.
Quincy then plots to get her hooked up with the object of her affection by planning a field trip to a place where he will have the chance to get to know her on her own turf. The field trip, to a giant arcade, proves to be a great idea, as it results in them being able to spend time together. The end result is that the boy in question asks her to the prom, which she vehemently agrees to.
Quincy’s plan is a success until, while showing her other tournaments that she can enter since she’ll miss this one, a picture of him comes up on the screen and Chris sees it. She immediately realizes that he’s “Q” and guesses at his plan- which he acknowledges. Her mother overhears, and is hurt because he lied. In an effort to pay him back for lying, Chris decides to forego the prom and compete after all, so that she can beat Quincy at the game.
Quincy tries to reach out to her and get her to realize that he made a mistake, even offering to drop out of the competition. Chris refuses to speak to him, and the competition is on. On competition day, Quincy seems slightly distracted, and in the middle of the game announces to Chris and the world, including her mother who is present at the tournament, that he is in love with her mom. The announcers assume that it’s a ploy to distract her, and that it’s a joke- only he’s not joking.
Chris and Quincy continue playing the game and eventually eliminate all the other opponents except for two. One opponent is stunned by the fourth player, and everyone assumes that player is out. Quincy, in an effort to convince Chris of his sincerity, orchestrates a kamikaze move for his character in the game- thus taking out himself and the only remaining player, making Chris the winner- or so they think. Unfortunately, in the midst of their celebrating, the stunned player revives, and takes Chris out for the win. Chris realizes that although she didn’t win, Quincy really was sincere in everything he said, and they share a happy hug with her mom.
While the movie was certainly predictable, I found it enjoyable just the same. It was interesting and funny, and Trainor and McCurdy play off of each other well on screen. If you missed it the first time, check it out with your teen/tween the next time it comes on- you won’t be disappointed!