Barney’s Version: The drinking game
Given that this is a drinking game, and given that the movie’s eponymous Barney likes his Macallan the way Homer Simpson likes his Duff, we thought we could get the ball rolling by doling out a sip for every time Barney has a drink. Big mistake. Any attempt to keep up with Paul Giamatti’s near-constant alcohol consumption during this touching, hilarious and ultimately devastating adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version would be a one-way ticket to the drunk tank.
The movie focuses on how important it is to appreciate what you have when you have it, and also on how you really shouldn’t get so drunk that you pass out and don’t remember if you shot your best friend. With those life lessons in mind, break out your poison of choice and enjoy the gospel according to Barney.
Take one drink:
1. Every time Barney gets married. Easy enough: three weddings, three big swigs. The lovable lout has quite a way with women, and wives in particular. Especially for a guy with that much hair on his shoulders.
2. Every time you wonder where decade-spanning, chronology-jumping movies would be without evolving hairstyles. Unsure of the time period of any given scene? Look no further than the length, fullness and degree of salt and pepper in Barney’s trademark mane. (A wig, by the way. In a recent interview, Giamatti referred to his character’s coif as a co-star.)
3. Any time you ponder why Scott Speedman has yet to make a serious mark in Hollywood. His portrayal of Barney’s talented and tortured BFF Boogie (who may or may not have been shot during a boozy bender) is both subtle and charming. His acting doesn’t rely on his looks, and when you look like a hybrid of Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson, Ryan Gosling, Jude Law, Justin Timberlake and the rebel prince Harry, that’s saying something. Reserve another nip for when Speedman strips down to his skivvies. Trust us, you’ll need it.
4. Each time you remember that Dustin Hoffman, who plays Barney’s beloved dad Izzy, is a damn fine actor and so much more than the sellout you just saw in Little Fockers. What’s that? You didn’t see Little Fockers? Funny how it’s currently the number one movie in the country, but no one will admit to having seen it.
5. For every CanCon cameo. Richler is probably Canada’s most beloved novelist, so it’s no wonder that top talents were falling over each other to appear in the film adaptation of his final novel. We counted Paul Gross, Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Bruce Greenwood and the late, great Maury Chaykin.
6. Any time you notice chintz. We’d forgotten how devoted the ’70s design aesthetic was to floral patterns that would definitely be considered gaudy by today’s standards. Curtains, bedspreads, furniture, throw pillows—it’s sort of like landing in the middle of Barry Manilow’s garage sale.
7. Every time Barney breaks from his usual scotch to enjoy a beer or a bottle of bubbly.
8. Every time Barney loses his lunch on a first date. OK, so it happens only once, but that scene in the Manhattan hotel room—the one in which Miriam discovers the crib notes Barney made in preparation for their date—is well worth toasting.
9. Every time a scene that should, according to the book, have taken place in Toronto is transplanted to NYC. Was Hogtown not glam enough for the big screen? Lord knows we have film-worthy parks and landmarks and prostitutes aplenty. So what gives?
10. For every Yiddish term or phrase. There are quite a few—mazel tov!