Tom Hanks Forgotten Dungeons And Dragons Movie Is Now Streaming For Free

Tom Hanks' Dungeons and Dragons film, Mazes and Monsters, is streaming for free on Tubi.

By TeeJay Small | Updated

tom hanks
Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters

Now that Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves has finally hit theaters, many fans are excitedly flocking to the box office to see the hit tabletop role-playing game adapted for the big screen. What many audiences may forget, however, is the host of relatively unknown films which tried to bring the expansive world of Dungeons and Dragons to the theater in years past, including 1982’s Mazes and Monsters. Mazes and Monsters is a long-forgotten film with a strange social commentary regarding role playing games, which stars a 26-year-old Tom Hanks in his first leading performance and is available to stream for free on Tubi.

Mazes and Monsters is centered on Tom Hanks’ Robbie, a maladjusted college student who meets with his group of outcasted friends to play a clear Dungeons and Dragons analog, aptly titled Mazes and Monsters, a la Freaks and Geeks. Robbie’s friends each suffer from a series of social problems at home which make it difficult for them to make new friends or fit in with the other kids at school, leading to their troupe constantly being in peril due to their many overlapping instances of social awkwardness. After playing the tabletop game together for some time, the group of friends take to LARPing, eventually leading to Hanks’ character indulging in a series of increasingly disturbing delusions.

In what a modern audience would likely consider a schizophrenic breakdown, Tom Hanks’ character begins to believe the game is real life, causing him to hallucinate goblins and ghouls in place of his friends. The film then takes a series of bizarre turns, leading to Hanks dumping his girlfriend to maintain his in-game character’s oath of celibacy, committing acts of criminal violence, and mistaking the newly constructed Twin Towers as J.R.R. Tolkien‘s famed Two Towers from the Lord of the Rings series. Eventually, the film ends with Robbie living out his final days highly medicated and under his parent’s care, as his condition has caused him to completely lose his grip on the real world.

In the final moments of the film, Tom Hanks sits with his friends and recounts the tale of one final adventure, likely the final time the friends ever see one another. Mazes and Monsters was based on a novel of the same name written by Rona Jaffe, which highly fictionalized a fabricated instance of a real-life teenager who believed Dungeons and Dragons was real, causing a mental break. Obviously, the book feeds into the absurd narrative being spun during the 1980s that the role-playing game and others like it would dangerously impact children, forcing them to lose grip over reality.

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Dungeons and Dragons was widely maligned by the Satanic Panic of the 80s, which was fueled by hundreds of unsubstantiated claims that popular video games, films, and children’s media would somehow brainwash and mind-control young people to commit acts of physical violence and ritual sacrifice. This movement of moral outrage was brought to you by the same decade that made hard drugs a requirement in every corporate executive’s office in the country. While Mazes and Monsters was met with near immediate dismissal from critics and audiences alike, Tom Hanks obviously went on to become one of Hollywood’s greatest stars, appearing in some of the most beloved movies of the last several decades.

While Mazes and Monsters was initially relegated to the dustbin of history, Tom Hanks’ star continued on the rise, eventually bringing the movie back into the fray due to his association with the film. After being nominated for a host of Academy Awards for his leading roles in 1988’s Big and 1994’s Forrest Gump, the film began airing on TV slots across the country, eventually earning a home release.

Most recently, the film was referenced during a 2023 appearance by Tom Hanks on Late Night with Seth Meyers, when he recalled that it was his first time working with his From the Earth to the Moon co-star Wendy Crewson. Crewson portrayed Hanks’ love interest, Kate, in the Mazes and Monsters, and the wife of astronaut Thomas P. Stafford in the 1988 TV miniseries. The film may not be critically well received, but it certainly provides an interesting look into the world of the 1980s and the flawed understanding of tabletop gaming culture at the time.