Monday, March 17, 2008

The King of Kong

Movie Review: The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters

I just watched what I believe was the best film of 2007. I haven't seen No Country For Old Men (I heard it's just a rip-off of The Terminator) but I have a hard time believing it could possibly be better than The King of Kong. It's about a guy named Steve Weibe and his quest to break the world record for the highest score in the 1981 arcade classic, Donkey Kong. But it's more than that. It's hilarious, somewhat unsettling, occasionally sweet and always intriguing. It's a look inside of a bizarre subculture as an outsider attempts to dethrone their hero.

Steve Weibe is a likable "aw shucks" kind of guy. He's a musician, an artist and an athlete. When he got laid off from his job at Boeing, he decided to spend his free time to try and break the world record for Donkey Kong. The problem is that the record was currently held by one of the doucheist characters in cinema history: Billy Mitchel. Billy was a video game "prodigy" in the 1980s and in 1982, he scored 874,300 points on Donkey Kong to set the world record. The second highest score (something like 500,000. I forget exactly.) was set by Billy's sidekick/toady Brian Kuh. As the film begins, Billy's '82 record still stands and Billy is still remarkably cocky as a result. He's also a dead-ringer for Ben Stiller's character in Dodgeball. But he's way funnier than Ben Stiller and this movie is way funnier than Dodgeball.

Billy is also a "referee" for Twin Galaxies, the organization that governs "world records" for video games. This makes Weibe's quest all the more difficult. It's as much about politics as it is about hand-eye coordination. It really is a fantastic movie that I highly recommend.

8 comments:

PaulNoonan said...

I'll have to put that in the netflix queue. i can't speak for the movie, but the book version of NCFOM is awesome. I'd describe it more as "Herman Melville meats Chuck Palahniuk."

Very Moby Dick/Billy Budd theme-wise.

Bruce Dierbeck said...

Wasn't this documentary amazing?! I received a screener copy of this late last year, and people always looked at me goofy as I kept pushing this on them.

Billy Mitchell is one of the greatest film villains we've seen in a while!

The hair. The beard. The attitude.

But as far as supporting characters -- what about Mr. Awesome, Roy Shildt?!

Danny from Milwaukee said...

Paul,
I definately want to see NCFOM. Or maybe even read it. I doubt it's better than KOK:AFFOQ.

Bruce,
It really was. Who would have thought? And Billy is what it's all about, but you're right, Mr. Awesome and Billy's sidekick are great characters too. Or that head referee guy that watches all of the tapes? What a dork.

I was hanging out with one of my friends last night that co-hosts a few shows on AM620 and he said he actually interviewed Billy Mitchel a few years ago right after his perfect Pack Man game. Awesome.

Erin said...

Ok, I take it back. What I said about this movie looking dumb.

We rented it last night and it was AWESOME. Steve Weibe is my hero.

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