Good party games are fun enough to effortlessly keep everyone's attention for an evening or so. This, unfortunately, is where You're in the Movies fails.
The idea is this: use the Xbox LIVE Vision Camera to literally put you and up to three other players in a movie. With your image imposed in real-time on screen, you're required to chop blocks, swat bees, turn wheels, run on the spot and make faces as the game records footage to be incorporated into brief cheesy fictional B-movie trailers that play at the end of four rounds of mini-games.
Unfortunately the whole movie making process is tarnished before it's even begun because the Xbox LIVE Vision Camera isn't up to the job. It's nigh on impossible to complete 'Audition Time', where you set up the players and the camera, without mysterious holes appearing in your on-screen body as a result of colour clashes with the background. In one four-player game in the office, all of our legs were chopped off.
Actually making a movie is a boring, drawn out affair that criminally fails to keep everyone involved all of the time. There are four rounds, each requesting a player to take it in turns to stand in front of the camera and take part in silly mini-games on their own or competitively with one other player. While the mini-games are varied, the actions they have you perform are not. For the most part you'll be running on the spot, waving your arms about swatting bees or punching blocks. The game, and by game we mean horribly annoying New York accented Mort Goldman-esque "director", suggests that by actually putting your back into what you're doing you'll score more points, but because your actions aren't picked up by the camera accurately, simply casually waving your hands in front of the camera is usually enough to nail the 9999 maximum score, although it's not entirely in the spirit of the game.
You're also asked to simply stand in front of the camera and strike a pose or make an exaggerated facial expression, like confusion, or fright, or even to do barmy things like stare down a well, push a trolley or just walk (wow). The reason? When the red camera icon displays on the top left of the screen the game is capturing footage to be used in the short B-movie trailer that runs at the end of the four rounds. The biggest issue here is that it feels as if you're waiting for your turn on set longer than you actually are (about five minutes), which means it's easy to lose interest in what others are doing and the game in general. Unless you find entertainment watching people walk on the spot or wave their arms about, or find incredible the fact that your friend or loved one is on the TV, you're going to be bored more than you're not.
Because the movie-making process drags, the minute-long "premieres" feel horribly short. They make the 30 minutes you've just spent sporadically acting like an idiot feel even more wasteful than they already are. And they just look rubbish because of the woeful camera capturing; people don't fit in properly with the on screen action, giving the whole thing an unpolished, rough look.
We did have a good laugh watching our Cold Blooded movie back, complete with terrifying monster, but only because of Neon's comedy shenanigans, not because of the game. You're encouraged to ham it up, but unless you do something seriously funny, it's all a bit, well, meh.
The game redeems itself somewhat with the Movie Theatre, where you can watch your saved movies and save them to your PC, via the You're in the Movies download centre, in the form of a WMV file. And the Director mode, unlocked after you've made a few movies, is a surprisingly robust editing suite. You can edit shots already recorded, add effects, audio and voice over with the 360 headset or change the music soundtrack.
Overall though, You're in the Movies simply isn't worth the £45 it costs to get the game bundled with the Xbox LIVE Vision Camera (although far cheaper if bought online or without the camera if you already own one). Yes, there are 30 B-movie scenarios, and plenty of mini-games, but the game isn't structured well enough to keep everyone interested and the end results aren't worth the effort. We can see You're in the Movies keeping younger gamers entertained far longer than older ones, however, so if you're expecting a horde of kids to descend on your place this Christmas, you could do far worse. But if you're looking for a 360 party game to keep adults entertained, perhaps over a few drinks, there's far better on offer on Microsoft's console, including Lips and Scene It? Box Office Smash. This is one movie that should have been left on the cutting room floor.