Film Review: Operation: The Power of Play

by Julia DeKorte | 02 Feb 2023

Book Reviews

“Operation: Operation The Power of Play” is a heartwarming mini-documentary produced by Tim Walsh and Peggy Brown with executive producer Mary Couzin about the real story of the beloved game: Operation. Invented by John Spinello in 1965 in his sophomore year design class, Spinello sold the game to Marvin Glass for $500, and hasn’t made a single penny off of it since.


Throughout the film, Walsh and Brown, along with Spinello and his family, tell the story of how Operation came to be, and the interesting connections that came out of it. Spinello’s kindhearted character is obvious, as he shares that he was never bitter that he didn’t reap the monetary benefits from his game, he is simply happy to know that it brings so much joy and inspiration to its players. Little did he know, his kindheartedness would be repaid.


When Spinello found out he needed an expensive oral surgery, Walsh and Brown began a Crowd Raise to fund it, and immediately the story became a hit. They not only raised enough money for Spinello to get his necessary oral surgery, but Spinello finally got the recognition he deserved.


His invention had a larger effect than just the joy created from playing. Dr. Andrew Goldstone, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins, invented a contraption to assist in the preservation of the vocal chords during thyroid surgery that worked just like the game of operation. The two meet and it is all around a happy and heartwarming exchange. A few years later, Spinello’s daughter found out she had thyroid cancer, and underwent a surgery that used the technology created by Dr. Goldstone… inspired by the game her dad created!


A heartwarming film full of connections and discussions of joy and the importance of play, “Operation: Operation The Power of Play” is a wonderful film that anyone will enjoy.


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