This One Has Both Dungeons and Dragons: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023) - Reviewed

Photos courtesy of Paramount

Ever wonder what sitting around with a bunch of people you enjoy being around pretending to be other people that like each might be like? Have you ever had a strong desire to nerd it up, rock the cosplay or be an elf? If you have answered yes to either of these questions, you should probably be playing Dungeons & Dragons, but this might be the second best option for you! All the majesty and beauty of Lord of the Rings with a party that is closer to the Monty Python films.

Honor Among Thieves is the fourth attempt by TSR/Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro to show the broad appeal of a game that was created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and ever since has ensnared generations of massive nerds (including yours truly). I'm pleased to say this is the first attempt to truly get it right. Even the conversations feel like they were written by people playing the game. Inside jokes abound, but thankfully the humor is not just for the rabid fanbase. 

The fear in movies like this is that everything will be dominated by heavy CGI, it is there but thankfully, there is a ton of really well-done fun practical creature effects in this one too. Not all of the CGI is perfect but with a story this fun, I never once felt pulled out of the world or the adventure.

A lot of credit has to be given to John Francis Daley; his fingerprints can be felt all over this, and the writer/director's wit and heart are clearly present in the script and the direction. He and Jonathan Goldstein have outdone themselves here, bringing the absolute joy, humor, and heartbreak that can be playing a tabletop game with your friends to the screen.

Chris Pine, as usual, is excellent and plays his character with his wry smile and caustic wit while lending heart and depth to a part that could very easily become two-dimensional. Honestly, at this point do we expect less? He never seems to take a part that isn't spot on and doesn't fit him like a hand-woven mitten.

With a cast that boasts Hugh Grant, Michelle Rodriguez, Justice Smith, Rege'-Jean Page and Sophia Lillis to name just some of the highlights, there isn't a weak link in the cast. Every scene is played seriously enough that when the ridiculous happens, the laughs are monumental. The people around me and I spent a good chunk of the movie cackling with joy.

At no point does the movie get so immersed in the potentially profound world and the rules that casual viewers will feel overwhelmed by it. It's a quick, easy world to get into, but let me tell you, if you are a D&D fan, there is a whole world of references and fun nods to things that all of us know that you'll be pointing at the screen shocked to see something you never imagined you'd seen at a theater, none the less a huge budget blockbuster. 

All in all, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, much like last year's Top Gun: Maverick is why theaters exist. It's a film best seen with a crowd to hear the laughs, feel immersed, and just flat-out have fun. It doesn't need to be a perfect movie, and it doesn't need to focus too hard on the rules of the actual game; it doesn't need to be an Oscar contender, it just needs to be a joyful light that draws us like moths to a theater to feel like kids again and play a little D&D. Get out there and go see it.

--Trevor West