Review: Hollywood Shuffle
Publisher: All Things Equal, Inc.
Year: 2007

The cover mostly has the text of the game name, but it is over a red carpet with a power couple at the front and the tagline on the marquee

how we met

I have no memory of picking up Hollywood Shuffle, but it’s a nice, light party game that is a perfect fit for our group. So who knows where it came from. I feel like it’s possible I picked up Hollywood Shuffle based on their NT “No Trivia” rating, prominently displayed on the cover. I do not love trivia.

how it plays

Hollywood Shuffle is a roll and move game, where your goal is to be the first to the end. Then you win!

Regardless of the space you land on, you flip up a card from each deck. The decks are THE LEAD, THE ACTION, and THE TWIST. This will give you the outline of a movie! Read the cards aloud as you flip so all players are aware of this movie outline.

Based on the space you land on, one of three different challenges will be required of other players. If the active player landed on:

  • CAST IT then the other players must write the name of who they envision to be cast as the Lead Actor in this movie as well as one of either the love interest, the nemesis or the sidekick
  • TITLE IT then the other players must write the name of this movie
  • END IT then the other players must write how the movie ends in a short phrase. The rules recommend 5-10 words
  • CRITIC’S CHOICE then the active player gets to choose from the three options above that other players must follow
A troubled loner with a mysterious past | Takes a job at a cut-throat Wall Street office | but must choose between love or money
What do you think happens in this one?

Once all players except the active player have completed their answer sheets, one of them will collect all the answer sheets, mix them up, and read them out loud. It’s important for the reader to not give away which answer was theirs.

Then the active player both chooses their favorite answer and guesses which player they think gave each answer. The player that submitted the favorite answer gets to move their pawn ahead two spaces! The active player moves ahead one space for every correct guess on which player submitted which response.

NOTE: do not give it away if the judge is choosing your answer as their favorite, or if they have not finished assigning players to their answers. Don’t ruin everything.

Play continues in this way until one lucky pawn reaches the end. That player wins!

how it went

You have heard me say time and time again that party games often suit our game group. We can really unleash our humor, and we almost always have a really nice time full of laughs. This game was no exception to that rule.

A charming art thief | pillages a seaside town | in the middle of downtown Tokyo
This was an END IT! option for us and the winner was “when he realizes he’s in his own painting.” I knew that was Keri because she’s been watching Twilight Zone

The back of Hollywood Shuffle gives some examples of card combinations. One example is: A COP WHO DOESN’T PLAY BY THE RULES | Becomes Immersed In Hip-Hop Culture | AND TEACHES US THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ENVIRONMENT. That’s kind of funny. But in our play, most of the combinations were so much more random and funny…and sometimes dark. The publisher was probably trying to play it safe with the back of the box.

Generally speaking people either very much enjoy party games or very much do not, so I will focus on showing a few random card combinations to give you an idea of what you might be in store for.

A renegade pirate | chases his/her dream of winning the Daytona 500 | in a Vietnamese prison camp
I mean, this is absurd but is maybe too random to hit our sweet spot
A chain-smoking rebellious teenager | travels through time | at the Rosenthal Bar Mitzvah
Again, there’s content to work with here. What would you title this piece?
A down-and-out New York reporter | Perfects the art of striptease | While exposing widespread corruption in the music industry
Hmm pretty sure I saw this film

And here are a few random answers that were probably winners during our gameplay, but without the cards. Just trust me, we are hilarious. Notice that there are no CAST IT answers here. Those are not funny and should just be removed. Luckily we only landed on that option once. Anyway as I was saying:

  • S.T. The Sextra Terrestrial
  • Stephen Gawking
  • “I’m cold and hungry”
  • Stripper 4: Rouge or Bouge
  • Night of the Vomit: Glendale Circle

Improvisational games like this are weak in nature, objectively. They are putting up a framework and relying so heavily on the players to bring the fun and the experience. So the same reason I happen to like these games is the same reason they are weak in their gameplay. I have some favorites that fit this bill (I will eventually put up a review of The Joke Game), but it’s important to separate the fun we might have had one night when we were on our game, to the actual gameplay of a given game.

In our play, John sped ahead right away, and he kept that lead throughout the entire game. And John won Hollywood Shuffle!

play or pass

Pass. I enjoyed running through this one, and in the right crowd you can really have some laughter. But the game is performative and improvisational. If you happen to play on a good day, if you are on your game, if you have the right group, if no one spoils the author during reading, if the cards work out to be enjoyable – if all these things fall into place then Hollywood Shuffle is a great time. You might even cry laughing. There’s just so many places it can go wrong.