Monday, July 6, 2009

Another interest of mine: Triviatown (4/5)

Do you have what it takes?
Triviatown (2006) is a documentary by Patrick Cady and Brit McAdams about the world's largest trivia event, the 90FM Trivia in Stephen's Point Wisconsin. It chronicles several teams in their 54-hour fight for the title.
The trivia contest is held over the radio by the local college radio station. A question is asked every two songs, and each team has the duration of those songs to submit their answer via telephone. Any source can be used for answering purposes-computer, books, calling people on the other side of the world.
But don't think that makes it easy. These questions are crazy-specific, like "In (some) scenein the kitchen in Close Encounters of the Third kind, what is the brand of milk that is sitting on the table?". For these questions, team members prepared all year by watching movies, TV and commercials (yes, even commercials are fair game), and writing down every detail. In one scene, we see team Dyslexics of the world Untie! retrieve a dvd from the trunk of a car to see what book a man brings to his ailing wife in the hospital. The operator at the radio stations answers just as the second song fades away. They get the answer in in time, and it is correct. I was on as little of my seat as they were!
Of course, as a trivia junkie I relate more heavily to this film than the average viewer. I began playing quizbowl in high school, and have continued to this day. Quizbowl is a triviagame played on teams of four. Schools compete against one another and, like all school sports, eligibility is a factor (though it was never a problem with us...haha). I even auditioned for jeopardy last November, but I didn't make it. I still have another year to try and qualify for the college version, and if not that, I have the rest of my life for the adult version!
I digress. Triviatown was a well-made documentary with one pitfall: the perennial winning team, Network, were portrayed somewhat as the villains, while the liquor store that was team Cakers was the protagonist of the story, finally making their way in to the top 10 after umpteen years of play. Yes, the members of Network were very cold individuals, but from my experience with quizbowl I have learned that even the most hardcore nerd can be nice when he wants to. They were kind of portrayed as if they didn't have fun with the competition, as seen in their disappointment with finishing second for the first time in years. It's not that at all: winning is their fun. They enjoy playing, but that doesn't mean they have to get drunk and dance to "Come on Eileen" to express it. I and many of my fellow nerds I'm sure will sympathize with the characterization of Network.
Still, this was a wonderful film, and I nice break from my classic cinema purge.They're great, but every once in a while one needs a break to stay interested.

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