Ever spent one of those mundane Friday afternoon blankly staring at your office screen, nursing a dull head from last night’s impromptu and badly conceived visit to the local and in full knowledge that you will achieve precisely nothing before the end of day bell goes and you run off for the weekend? Well, curse your bad luck no more. No longer does the work place have to be a prison, your tie the symbolic shackles of corporate oppression, drugged by whatever it is they put in the water cooler… Okay, maybe that’s too much, but it wont have to be quite as boring from today onwards.

I give you The Maltin Game. Prepare to lose hours of your life to it.

I was first introduced to the game by Doug Benson’s  heroically funny ‘Doug Loves Movies’ podcast, which features the comedian (and his typically famous guests) reading a film’s cast in reverse order and inviting his guests to guess the title. That is basically the same premise as the online version of the game,

To reiterate, the online version’s creator (a colourful sounding fella called NoPantsJim) has spelled the rules out on the site:

To start, you’ll be given the year of release, several genres, and the number of listed actors. At first, no actors are shown, and you’ll have to guess based on what little information you have. Every time you guess a movie incorrectly, a name is revealed from the bottom of the list. The goal is to name the movie in the least names revealed. If you are unable to correctly name the movie before running out of names, you’ll lose and move on to the next game.

Sounds pretty simple, but I guarantee it will haunt your very dreams. There are some easier offerings, but who in their right mind remember Colossus: The Forbin Project or would think of Idiocracy starring Luke Wilson? Certainly not me, it would appear. The key to the game’s ability to really get under your skin is the fact that it leaves you feeling like you want to beat it at its own game- and very quickly it becomes as much a part of your life as the job you merrily pretend doesnt exist when you type the URL into the address bar.

For anyone who doesn’t recognise the name, Leonard Maltin is an American film critic: hell, the man is an institution, having prolifically produced some of the most well-respected tombs in the film critic world. He can also boast cameos in South Park and Gremlins 2, as well as a mention on The Simpsons and the auspicious accolade of appearing in The Guinness Book of Records for the shortest ever film review (in response to the 1948 musical Isn’t It Romantic? he replied simply “No”). Maltin himself has appeared on the ‘Doug Loves Movies’ podcast, and has played the game that stole his name. No news yet on how many turns it took him to get a title in one- surely he highest accolade of the game.

Finally, NoPantsJim also offers some handy tips for “not sucking” at the game:

  • Clicking “Name That Movie” without entering a title will reveal the next name on the list.
  • Movie titles must be spelled properly, so take full advantage of the Ajax dropdown box on the movie title field.
  • While on the “Play” page, don’t use the refresh button, the back button, or click too quickly. Bad things will happen.
  • Don’t cheat by using IMDB or Google. It’s much less fun that way, and I’ll just erase your stats anyway.

Seriously, go to TheMaltinGame.com: it’ll be your new favourite game site before you’ve guessed your way to one correct answer.