What if life was like a video game. You drop a quarter in the slot, move your character down some path and you succeed or fail. Success means a new high score. Failure means you have a chance to try it again and do it right. This is the idea behind Michael Felker’s short film, Would You Like To Try Again?
We open in a small desert town. Young Jennifer receives a phone call from her sister and immediately ignores the call and throws away her phone. Soon, she walks into an unknown arcade featuring a few of the classic games calling out to her for her quarter.
As she wanders, Jennifer finds herself at the employees only section, full of broken games and machine parts. A particular game catches her eye. It’s unplugged and unidentifiable as the nameplate has been scratched out. When she turns her back, the video screen lights up, but the machine is still unplugged.
“When she turns her back, the video screen lights up, but the machine is still unplugged.”
Mysteriously, the screen lights up and the words, “Welcome. Please Insert A Coin,” appear. She is then instructed to plant her feet, bend her knees and hold the joystick. She is transported in her mind to her kitchen, and her sister (Olivia Stuck) is across the way, screaming at her. As Jennifer runs away, the game/vision stops, and she receives the message, “Memory Replay Failed.” The game asks Jennifer if she’d like to try again.
At barely over ten minutes, Would You Like to Try Again? is short and to the point. It speaks to the idea of do-overs in life. When we’re rushed to make a decision (or to avoid said decision), as humans we naturally take the path of least resistance. It’s either the way that makes us feel good or the path that avoid an awkward situation, even though confrontation is inevitable.
Felker uses the idea of multiple lives and unlimited do-overs in video games to illustrate his point. He presents a little Twilight Zone story with a sweet and hopeful ending. He makes good use of 8-bit arcade animation that leaves us with the moral of doing right for others, rather than selfishly taking the easy way out.
Would You Like To Try Again? (2019) Written and directed by Michael Felker. Starring Kate Buatti, Olivia Stuck. Would You Like To Try Again? screened at the 2019 Dances With Films.
8 out of 10 stars