I usually have pretty mixed feelings when it comes to the trivia game genre. I am a fan of trivia in general as well as random facts that you pick up from time to time. The problem with most trivia games though is that they have very little originality. The gameplay basically boils down to trying to give the correct answer to a trivia question in order to score points or move your piece forward on a gameboard. As most games follow the exact same formula, it all comes down to the questions which can be really hit or miss. Some games are really easy while others ask really specific questions where you almost have to be an expert to know the answer. While I would consider myself to be a movie buff, I didn’t know what to think of Pass the Popcorn. In many ways it just looked like a typical trivia game, but it had some unique ideas as well. Pass the Popcorn takes an interesting approach to your typical trivia game that will likely appeal to movie buffs, but at the end of the day doesn’t really differentiate itself all that much.
How to Play Pass the Popcorn
Pass the Popcorn includes two different games that you can play. The details of how to play each game are shown below.
The Movie Game
- Place all of the game tiles face-down in the middle of the table.
- Each player will randomly select two of the tiles. They will place the tiles face up in front of themselves. The rest of the tiles are returned to the box.
- Choose a player who will be the first reader. This role will alternate throughout the game. They will be given the card holder.
Playing the Game
To begin a round the current reader will take out a card from the box and holds it so no one else can see what is written on the side that they are looking at (the cards are double sided). The reader will tell the other players the year and genre of the movie for the current round.
Starting with the player to the left of the reader, the current player will choose one of two actions for their turn.
The first action they can choose is to swap one of their face-up tiles with a face-up tile in front of another player. If a player chooses this action, their turn will end.
Otherwise the player can choose to get a clue. They will choose one of their face-up tiles which correspond to the different categories of clues that are available. Depending on the clue type that is chosen, only players with one of the corresponding tiles face-up in front of them can guess this turn.
The reader will then read out the clue corresponding to the chosen category. If a player wants to make a guess and has the corresponding tile, they can submit their guess. If they are wrong they are eliminated from the current card and cannot make another guess. If no one makes a correct guess, the next player clockwise will get to take their action.
When a player guesses the correct movie title, they will turn over their tile that features the clue category that was just given. The card will be returned to the box, and the player to the left of the reader will become the next reader and will draw the next card. If no one is able to guess the correct movie title, a new card will be drawn and the next player to the left will be the reader.
End of Round and Game
A round will end when a player turns over the last tile in front of them.
If the player that won the current round flipped over four tiles, they will win the game.
Otherwise another round is played. All of the players will draw new tiles for the next round equal to the number they drew for the previous round. The player that won the last round will have to draw one more tile than they did in the previous round.
- Remove the 75 cards from the box that have the “Pass the Popcorn” logo on the back. Shuffle the cards.
- Choose a player to be the dealer. The dealer deals out seven cards to each player.
- The rest of the cards will be placed face down on the table to form the draw deck.
Playing the Game
Star Connection is played over three rounds. Each round begins with the dealer flipping over the top card from the draw deck and placing it in the middle of the table. As soon as this card is flipped over, the round begins. All of the players will play at the same time, and will try to play cards as quickly as possible.
All of the players will look at the last card played to the table. This card will feature the name of an actor, a number (used for scoring), and a list of movies that the actor appeared in. All of the players will look at the cards in their hand to try and find an actor that appeared in a movie with the last played actor (does not have to be a movie featured on one of the cards).
When a player comes up with a card that they can play, they will play it on top of the previous card. They will then say what movie that both actors appeared in.
If a player plays a wild card, it can represent any actor. The actor still has to have appeared in a movie with the previous actor. Once this card is played it will also have to represent the same actor for the next card that matches it.
If a player does not agree with a movie connection that someone made, they have the option to challenge it. The normal game will pause until the challenge is resolved. If players have access to something that can verify if the two actors were in the chosen movie, players will look it up. If players can’t look up the answer they will vote on whether it should count. When verifying the claim both actors have to appear in the movie named when the card was played. It will not count if the two actors were only in another movie together. The result of the challenge will determine who will have to draw two additional cards:
- If it is determined that the two actors did not appear in the movie as claimed, the player who played the last card will have to take it back as well as two additional cards from the draw pile.
- If the player played their card correctly, the challenging player will have to draw two cards from the draw pile.
Once a card has been successfully played, the players will try to find a match for the new card. If it ever gets to the point that no one has a card that they can play, all of the cards on the table are removed and the player who played the last card will get to play one of the cards from their hand. Players will then try to match this new card.
End of Round and Game
A round ends when one of the players plays the last card from their hand.
Players with cards left in their hand will add up the values on all of their cards. This total is the number of points that the player scored in the round. The winner of the previous round will then be the dealer for the next round. The setup process that began the game will be used to setup the next round. If you should ever run out of cards, reuse the cards that have already been used in the game.
After three rounds have been played the game ends. The player who scored the least points in the game will win.
My Thoughts on Pass the Popcorn
When most people first see Pass the Popcorn they likely will think that it sounds like another generic movie trivia game. That first impression is pretty accurate. Players compete to try and answer more questions about various movies. Thus your opinion of the game is likely going to depend pretty heavily on how much of a movie buff that you are. If you don’t watch many movies you likely will struggle in the game and thus not get much enjoyment out of it. The player that knows the most movies is going to have a distinct advantage in the game. Therefore movie buffs will likely enjoy the game considerably more.
On the surface Pass the Popcorn feels like every other movie trivia game as you are given information about a movie and then have to try and guess the correct title. To help you guess the title, the game has clues related to the cast, characters, plot, and quotes. This aspect of the game isn’t even that unique as most movie trivia games rely on these categories of clues. Where the game somewhat differentiates itself is with how it gives out clues. Each of the players will have tiles face up in front of them which relate to the different categories of clues that are available. Players take turns choosing one of their face up tiles to receive the corresponding clue for the current movie.
While not a huge change, I thought this was an interesting addition to your typical trivia game. Players will get to choose the clue that they would like to receive for the current movie. In a way this kind of adds some strategy to the game. Normally you would think that you would just choose the category that is most likely to help you guess the movie title correctly. The catch is that every player that has the same tile in front of them can also guess at the same time. Therefore you might want to choose a category because it limits the number of players that can guess along with you.
This mechanic also adds its own little catch-up mechanic that might help players that otherwise would struggle in a movie trivia game. In each round players are competing to get rid of all of their tiles first. In the first round everyone has the same number of tiles. As you win rounds though you will end up with more tiles that you have to get rid of than the other players. This means that the players that get off to a fast start will be at a disadvantage in later rounds. They may have more options regarding categories that they can choose from, but they will also have to get more correct answers to win the round. This could backfire for players that are way outmatched as they could end up even further behind, but it generally should keep the game closer until the end.
The tile mechanic does add some luck to the game though. Basically the tiles you end up drawing can play a pretty big role in how well you will do in a round. This is due to a couple of factors. First some of the clues are more useful than others. The plot is by far the most valuable as they are usually written in a way where it is pretty easy to guess a movie if you have seen it or have a general idea of what happens in it. Next is probably the cast or characters as this can give you quite a bit of information. The worst though by far (at least for most cards) is the quote. The problem is that most of the quotes aren’t that familiar unless you know a lot about a movie. The distribution of your tiles is also important. If you get a bunch of the same tile, it will be much harder to get rid of them as you will have less options. You could waste a turn swapping with another player, but that still puts you at a disadvantage compared to the other players.
While the tile mechanic does tweak the trivia game formula a little, it is still at its heart a trivia game. Thus like most trivia games, Pass the Popcorn is quite easy to learn and play. The game could probably be taught to most players within just a couple of minutes. You are still pretty much just answering trivia questions. I really don’t see anyone having any trouble playing the game. The 12+ rating mostly comes from the fact that there is quite a bit of writing on the cards, and the game does have cards related to movies that children wouldn’t have watched.
With how easy Pass the Popcorn is to play, I was actually a little surprised that the game takes longer to play than I was expecting. The length is going to somewhat depend on the number of players as more players means more questions will have to be asked before a winner is determined. If a player wins handily it likely will move pretty quickly. If there are several players that are evenly matched though, you will have to play quite a few rounds before someone ultimately wins. This is kind of detrimental to the game as trivia games generally start to suffer if they drag on for too long. Especially if you are playing with more players, you should maybe consider ditching the four tile rounds as that should shorten the game quite a bit.
In addition to the main game, Pass the Popcorn also includes a second game called Star Connect. Star Connect is basically Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Players race to play actor cards from their hands by connecting them to the current actor with a movie that both starred in. This game is mostly about who is good at remembering the casts to different movies. Most of the actors are well known where they have enough acting credits where you should be able to come up with connections between them. Maybe it is just me, but this was quite a bit harder than the main game though. Even if you have watched a lot of movies, it is hard to come up with movies that starred two specific actors together. Basically if the premise intrigues you, I think you will enjoy Star Connect.
As for the game’s components there are some things that I liked and others that I think could have been better. First I like that the game actually includes two different games that you can play. Star Connect is its own game instead of just a little tweak on the main game. I found the card quality to be pretty good, and the artwork is pretty nice. The cards are well designed where it is easy to find any information that you need.
My main problem with the components come from the cards themselves. First the game doesn’t have a ton of cards. The game comes with only 125 double sided cards so you can only play 250 rounds before you get repeats. Unless you wait a long time between plays, due to how the cards are designed I don’t see them working well for a second game. Next I kind of question the genres that the game comes up with for some of the movies. For some of the movies the genres where actually pretty misleading as I would label them quite a bit differently. The final problem is just that the game feels kind of outdated at this point. The game came out in 2008 and you can tell by the movies included in the cards. Some of the movies are classics. Many of the cards are about 2000s movies though, some of which have been kind of forgotten at this point. Unfortunately like a lot of trivia games, Pass the Popcorn feels outdated. The game has had a number of expansions/spinoffs, but most of those came out around the same time as well. If you were looking for a more up to date movie trivia game, you might be disappointed.
Should You Buy Pass the Popcorn?
When most people first see Pass the Popcorn they will probably think that it is just another movie trivia game. They would be both right and wrong. The game is basically built around trying to identify movies based on their cast, characters, plot, and quotes. The game differentiates itself some though based on how the clues are chosen. Players will get to pick clues based on the tiles in front of them. I found this interesting as it adds some strategy to the clues you choose and adds somewhat of a catch-up mechanic. It also adds quite a bit of luck though as all of the clue categories were not created equally. Pass the Popcorn also adds a secondary game that is basically Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Pass the Popcorn is easy to play but sometimes takes longer than it should. The bigger problem is that the game doesn’t include a ton of cards and is kind of outdated at this point.
My recommendation for Pass the Popcorn mostly comes down to your opinion of movie trivia games. If you hate trivia games or aren’t that much of a movie buff, Pass the Popcorn is not going to be for you. If you are a big movie trivia buff though, there are some things to like about the game. For the right price I think it might be worth checking out.