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Movies That Raise the Bar (Games) to the Next Level

Contrary to popular belief, you can do things in bars other than just drinking and trying to impress the opposite sex. In fact the social aspect involved in hitting the downtown scene takes many different forms - many of them competitive. Some of these may not be the top sport movies in the conventional sense, but they prove that anything you can do for fun with friends, you can always turn professional.

Over the Top - You know, I can't figure out why there haven't been more movies dedicated the art of arm-wrestling. Okay, no one is going to confuse this 80s Sylvester Stallone film with The Godfather or Lawrence of Arabia, but it's the only movie that made any attempt at making arm-wrestling look cool. I say attempt, because I don't think it really succeeded all that well, but at least I found out your arm-wrestling prowess could lead you to a sweet gig in Vegas.

Beerfest - The favorite of frat boys from coast to coast - drinking games are the lowest form of entertainment, yet prove incredibly popular. Beer pong, quarters, chugging competitions - Beerfest takes them all and pits them in a nation vs. nation championship for supremacy. Broken Lizard has a shaky track record for films (though I still think Super Troopers is fantastic) and Beerfest is pretty middling but where else are you doing to find such dedication and pride over what millions of college-age kids do every weekend?

The Hustler / The Color of Money - I couldn't limit pool to just one film as this one-two punch of "Fast" Eddie Felson go hand-in-hand. Although I think The Hustler is the superior films, both turn the game of pool into something almost poetic, while at no point avoiding the gritty and at times dangerous world of hustling. Whether you've ever played pool for money or simply played for fun, these two films perfectly capture the essence of something the right attitude and the talent to back it up.

Rounders - Poker has certainly evolved in the recent years. Huge tournaments, colorful personalities and online sites make even the most green amateur think they have a chance at winning a bracelet (and millions of dollars in prize money). Yet Rounders came out before the avalanche hit and while I don't think it was responsible, it certainly couldn't have hurt. The film didn't exactly make poker look glamorous, but it did make it look like a lot of fun and Matt Damon and Edward Norton couldn't go wrong. Go to any small-time tournament held at your local bar and I bet you'll find more than a few people who can quote this movie.

Duets - I'm aware that karaoke is usually not competitive, but I think that just about every type of drinking establishment holds at least one night of karaoke at some point in time (weekly, monthly or special occasions). Duets gets extra points because the ultimate goal is Omaha, NE - not quite my hometown, but close enough! And apparently home to a national karaoke competition. Anyway, the whole point of the movie is to show all the wacky people who take this usually drinking-inspired endeavor seriously. Con men, would-be professionals, a salesman - plus where else will you find Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Giamatti singing in the same film? Once again, the film didn't exactly wow the critics, but for everyone who has been reluctantly dragged up to participate in this ritual, or who just likes cover songs, Duets will do the trick.

Swingers - And finally we come to it - the reason most people go out to bars - to pick up people. Swingers introduced us to Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Ron Livingston, but it also gave men everywhere an ideal to shoot for. I've never seen the actual bar scene look this slick, but the movie is worth it for the one-liners and soundtrack alone. I may not be as "money" as the guys here, but I wonder about the multitudes of men who derived inspiration from this film

There are other films out there that take an evening out with friends and turns it into something... bigger. It just goes to show that in Hollywood, anything small can be made into something amazing. Now if only someone would turn darts into a compelling film. I mean, they've done it with chess, pool and dodgeball - why can't they get darts right?

Chris Kavan is the Community Manager of FilmCrave.com and he's done nearly all the above at some point in his life.
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About FilmCraverChrisone of us since 6:40 PM on 07.12.2012

A native Nebraskan with a passion for all things media related: movies, TV, games, books - I devour them all with equal pleasure. I am lucky enough to to turn that passion into an actual way to connect to people as Community Manager of FilmCrave.com and MeltedJoystick.com I hope to provide a bit of levity with some pop culture lists or anything else that might strike my fancy.