Series 7: The Contenders (2001)

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Critic Consensus: Boasting no big-name stars, Series 7 is surprisingly well-acted. Its timing is impeccable, with its dark humor casting shadows over the enjoyment and popularity of today's reality-TV shows.

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Movie Info

In this take-off on reality television programs (shot on digital video), a show entitled "The Contenders" has just selected six people at random for the high-rated series. Their mission: to assassinate one another until there is one lone survivor. Among the contestants are Dawn (Brooke Smith), the reigning champion who claims ten kills in two tours thus far -- and who also happens to be eight months pregnant; Tony (Michael Kaycheck), a blue-collar family man; Connie (Marylouise Burke), an emergency-room nurse who strongly believes in God; Franklin (Richard Venture), an aging conspiracy theorist; Lindsay (Merritt Wever), an average 18-year old high schooler with a set of interfering parental units; and Jeff (Glenn Fitzgerald), an artist dying of testicular cancer who also happens to be the long-lost love of champ Dawn (which is why the show's producers forced them to reunite under such odd circumstances). "The Contenders" must learn to outwit each other and create effective diversions in order to protect themselves, particularly Dawn, who is fighting for not only herself, but her unborn child as well. Series 7 is the debut feature from screenwriter Daniel Minahan (I Shot Andy Warhol).

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Cast

Brooke Smith
as Dawn Lagarto
Marylouise Burke
as Connie Trabucco
Glenn Fitzgerald
as Jeffrey Norman
Michael Kaycheck
as Tony Reilly
Richard Venture
as Franklin James
Merritt Wever
as Lindsay Berns
Tanny McDonald
as Dawn's Mother
Mark Woodbury
as Dairy Mart Clerk
Tom Gilroy
as Dawn's Cameraman
Robin Borden
as Doria Lookalike No. 1
Lauren Ward
as Doria Lookalike No. 2
Aydin Bengisu
as Jeff Lookalike No. 1
Josh Mosby
as Jeff Lookalike No. 2
Babo Harrison
as Dawn Lookalike
Will Arnett
as Narrator
Adena Shea Loomis
as Ultra Sound Baby
Pamela Wehner
as Lottery Spokesmodel
John Ventimiglia
as Dispatch Operator
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Critic Reviews for Series 7: The Contenders

All Critics (81) | Top Critics (26)

A gritty, disturbing and very funny satire that points the finger as much at its audience as those who make 'reality TV.'

Jun 22, 2001 | Full Review…

Clever.

Apr 6, 2001 | Full Review…

Series 7 is clever, hip filmmaking, admirable for its tenacious faithfulness to the world it creates.

Mar 23, 2001

'Reality' notwithstanding, the performances in this film are uniformly good, and Brooke Smith as Dawn is better than that.

Mar 21, 2001

It's as funny as you could reasonably expect without Christopher Guest being involved in the project.

Mar 16, 2001 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

It seduces us until, damn our black hearts, we've come to really care who wins.

Mar 16, 2001 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Series 7: The Contenders

½

Hilarious! I love this film. They quicky push you to the edge of what Reality TV can be..then add a love story too. This film holds a mirror up to the American Culture..and reveals some pretty ugly things.

Hogans Hero
Hogans Hero

Super Reviewer

Little known biting satire on the horror of 'reality' TV which takes the format to its natural conclusion. Deserves a wide audience.

Gordon Anderson
Gordon Anderson

Super Reviewer

A caustic and darkly funny jab at reality TV. It's amazing how much this looks like the real thing. Don't listen to the narrator- he lies to you. I love the way the final show seems to manifactured, that the truth almost seems irrelevant in the face of such perfect entertainment. This not only skewers reality TV, but phoniness in general. This is the best parody of reality TV I have ever seen.

Emily Armstrong
Emily Armstrong

Super Reviewer

[font=Arial][color=darkred]Anyway here's a quick look at some recent rentals of mine and the thoughts that they provoked and the feelings I wanted to either scream about or just scream period.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Training Day - Denzel Washington won an Oscar for this? Instead of Malcolm X? For THIS?! Yes he gets to huff and puff as he plays against type as a dirty cop, but is this reason alone to give an Academy Award to such a forgettable and collectively implausible film? Ethan Hawk, his co-star, is actually better in the film than Denzel! All I can say is right actor, wrong movie. It's like rewarding Kevin Spacey for Pay It Forward over the other screamingly better movies. It doesn't make sense. There are plenty of hip-hop stars making cameos or small roles (Dr. Dre, Snoop, Macy Gray) but most of the time Training Day feels like tired and dead air especially as the contrivances begin to pile onto one another the longer this day goes. And Denzel is huffing and puffing but the house still stands. Man, the voters must really have not wanted Russell Crowe to win.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: C[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Serendipity - There's a universe somewhere populated entirely with down-on-their-luck lovable sweethearts and good-hearted friendly buffoons operated under the physics of romantic comedies. In this universe there is no such thing as chance, even if one leaves it up to it, and in this place what would seem like frustratingly idiotic behavior seems romantic. So is Serendipity revolving in this universe. Kate Beckinsale is a gal that leaves everything to fate, possibly even her taxes, and John Cusack is the smitten man running all over the place trying to find this mad woman. In our world Beckinsale would seem foolish or even mean-spirited, but because the two will definitely end up in each other's arms before the credits roll we allow her to continue her ridiculous behavior. She puts Cusack in a seemingly cruel obstacle course of chance to win her heart. These people operate outside of our known world. Eugene Levy has a brief and funny part in the movie but otherwise Serendipity takes itself as being much cuter and smarter than it is.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: C-[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Sexy Beast - Never, under any circumstances, do you want to piss off Gandhi. Sexy Beast is a British crime story where the ferocious mad dog Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) is trying to recruit a retired hand (Ray Winstone) into one last job back in London. Winstone is enjoying the sun of California with his middle-aged ex-porn star wife who he loves dearly. But Don does not take "no" for an answer. Kingsley is the true focal point of the film and is astounding and brutally terrifying as the wound up gangster. He gives an electrifying performance that is the polar opposite of India's non-violent leader. When Kingsley vanishes from the screen Sexy Beast suffers and becomes a variation of the old crime film, except a very short one at that being under 90 minutes of running time. Video director Jonathon Glazer has done a fine job for his debut but there isn't much to this tale without Kingsley's memorable efforts.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Series 7: The Contenders - A scathing satire of our media and bloodthirsty society wanting something always pushing the boundaries. Writer-director Daniel Minahan has created a future where the most popular TV show is called "The Contenders" and selects five strangers at random in the same town as contestants. The problem is that these five people, including the winner of the previous season, are now on a manhunt in a kill-or-be-killed situation where the only prize of this game show is one's own life. Series 7 is skillfully made to be indistinguishable from other reality TV shows except for the bursts of language and violence. If you were playing this and a friend walked into the room they would be convinced it was a TV show. The film gets a little soap operish toward the end with its characters dealing with haunted love but the film is a fast and entertaining warning piece that might provoke as many thoughts as cries for blood.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: B+[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Audition - Ever seen a sick joke made into a movie? A Japanese movie? Well rest assured that you now can. The crux of this film centers around a widowed father raising his teenage son who suggests that dad begins to find a new wife so they can once again have a family. His friend comes up with the idea for an audition where they bring in hundreds of candidates and they can see which can ignite sparks. Sounds like an intriguing premise to a promising and cute foreign romantic comedy? Can you picture the fun and charming moments in your head as this premise plays out? Well now erase all that and replace it with a sudden violent shift into second-rate Cronenberg territory. The special one that the father picks ends up having a mysterious past that involves sexual mutilation by a frisky uncle who is now leg-less. Guess who did that? And then it gets even darker as the gal seems to hobble those around her for permanent company and slices and dices those she feels do not love her anymore. Where the hell did all this stuff come from? And that's the point: it comes from nowhere! The shift is so jarring that it happens like you're locked in a drag race. The horror is so over the top and inane that what seemed promising now turns into a great conversation piece with friends. "Hey, there was this movie that seemed like it would be fun and romantic and then suddenly..."[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: D+ [/color][/font]

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

Series 7: The Contenders Quotes

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