Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel is set in a dystopian 2045 and follows Wade Wyatt, whose obsession with a global virtual reality game is primed to pay off when he learns of an Easter egg that will grant its finder the keys to the entire kingdom. Finding the necessary clues requires a deep knowledge of games and movies, and Wade is well-prepared. It’s sort of a wish-fulfillment scenario in which all that otherwise useless knowledge will finally pay off. Likewise, Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation includes dozens, if not hundreds, of pop culture callbacks: references to Back to the Future, The Iron Giant, Gundam, The Shining, Jurassic Park, Batman, etc. So many, in fact, that the movie could likely never have gotten made without Spielberg-level pull in getting all of the rights’ clearances. In the world of the OASIS, four-quadrant multi-billion-dollar global franchises are, apparently, niche concerns, and only the nerdiest of nerds would ever be able to identify.
Where to stream: HBO Max, Hulu, Sling TV