More Children’s Games to Turn into Movies

A movie about grown-ups playing hide and seek is out now, hot on the heels of last year’s movies about people people playing tag and truth or dare. Naturally, one wonders: What other childhood games could be turned into movies? I took a trip down memory lane and came up with these beloved pastimes that kids of the ’80s and ’90s will fondly remember, with some suggestions for how to turn them into films. Game on!

Find the Waffle

I was never great at this game, but I loved playing it! This is the one where the headmistress at your orphanage has the cook make a single waffle for breakfast, then hides it somewhere in the yard. Whoever finds it gets to eat it while everyone else goes hungry. A movie version could really play up the “mystery” aspect — maybe a Sherlock Holmes situation? Or perhaps a romantic comedy where a husband and wife are competing against each other to find the waffle?

Madame Is Resting

After A Quiet Place, now is the time to cash in on movies about silence. A perfect vehicle is this children’s game, usually played on a Saturday or Sunday morning, when the headmistress is deeply hungover and everyone must play silently — OR ELSE! This could either be a comedy or a suspense film, depending on how it’s adapted for the grown-up world and on how mad the sleeping person will be if he or she is awakened.

Stick Friend

Who among us didn’t, as a child, take a stick and fashion it into a friend as a means of circumventing the strict “no dolls” rule imposed by our guardians? In the movie version of Stick Friend, the hero’s stick friend comes to life for real and gives him advice, teaches him how to score with the ladies, etc.

Chase

This one will be tough to adapt because the game is so simple. How do you make a movie about restless children who are given a five-second head-start to outrun a pack of Dobermans? Such a universal experience, yet so hard to depict cinematically — unless you cast notable runner Tom Cruise in the lead, in which case it all comes together.

Cellar, Cellar, Basement Dweller!

This exciting game has been helping children overcome their fear of basements for centuries. When the cook needs another keg of liquefied animal parts for tonight’s slurry, about five or six kids go to the cellar to get it, then race to see who gets back up the stairs first. Last one up must stay in the basement overnight and endure the lusty taunts of “Cellar, cellar, basement dweller!” from the other children. I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on how a creepy basement could be used in a movie, especially if (as was the case for me) the basement is also where the Dobermans live.

Groundskeeper’s Bane

Everyone knows not to pester the cantankerous groundskeeper at the orphanage lest he refer you to Headmistress for knuckle-bruising. And that’s why it was always so exciting to get a few friends together and pester him! In the movie version, the groundskeeper has built a pester-proof shack to live in and, to prove its functionality, offers a prize to anyone who can successfully pester him through it. This leads all of the neighborhood’s miscreants to attempt pranks and mischief, resulting in some hard lessons learned if it is rated PG-13, or, if it’s rated R, the deaths of multiple children.

Straw Man

We all love this funny game played every year around harvest time. The adults make a “Straw Man” out of hay, the children stuff it with scraps of paper on which they have written all the naughty things they’ve done this year, and then the whole thing is set on fire while the children sing the jaunty “Straw Man” song: “Straw Man, Straw Man / You’re against the law, man / Even if you burn our sins / We are still going to hell when we die.” There is already a movie called Wicker Man, but I think Straw Man is different enough because I remember Straw Man as being very fun and Wicker Man is not.


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Eric D. Snider has been a film critic since 1999, first for newspapers (when those were a thing) and then for the internet. He was born and raised in Southern California, lived in Utah in his 20s, then Portland, now Utah again. He is glad to meet you, probably.

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