2007
Rated: G
Genre: Documentary Comedy
Directed By: Seth Gordon
Running Time: 1:19
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 11/4/07
Special Features:
N/A.
THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS

 

What with all the documentaries about global warming, the Iraq War, the horrible medical system in the US, the environment, and protests, sometimes we want a documentary that’s compelling and fun at the same time. With documentaries there aren’t many out there that provide both for the American audience. “The King of Kong” is that documentary. It’s escapist without sacrificing brain cells. “The King of Kong” is that movie that places a great deal of importance around something that most of us would deem irrelevant and absurd. But to the folks here, it’s life or death, honor and pride. “The King of Kong” is a documentary about the two best players of “Donkey Kong” who ever lived, and their ensuing rivalry. Some may scoff that there’s a film devoted to these individuals and an outdated thought influential video game, but, shocker: “The King of Kong” is quite compelling.

Perhaps even excellent.

“The King of Kong” is in all honesty one of those many pop culture 80’s chic throwbacks running rampant across the Western film market, but director Seth Gordon thankfully makes it a fascinating little picture about two men with simple goals that have helped them get ahead in life. To wit, the minute goal helps them improve as people, and helps improve the perspective of video games among audiences. And what’s fascinating about this film is the prior aftermath after Steve Wiebe breaks world champion Billy Mitchell’s record, which includes slight stalking, heavy debate, and an incident involving breaking and entering.  

But most of all, this is all so real and yet the conflict and characters are so colorful that you almost suspect someone wrote this film. There’s your humble hero Steve with a support system of a loving wife and son, the cocky antagonist Billy, the moral center in the game ref Walter, and the goal of topping the score for “Donkey Kong.” You can’t make this stuff up and that’s why “King of Kong” is just never boring. The attempts of both men to one up each other is shockingly entertaining with both Steve and Billy providing so much depth and thrills to appease those skeptical at the film’s basic premise, and people will definitely side with Steve over Billy, who is often cocky, arrogant and hypocritical. For example, Steve tapes his winning score, and Billy protests, but once Steve shows in person to prove he topped Billy’s score, Billy sends a tape to show the million points topping of Steve’s score, and no one even protests.

Both men are basically likable and that ups the ante on this underdog film that pits acclaimed champion against obscure champion and the scenes of the scores going up and our players at the screen are tense and you want to see Steve accomplish his goal and garner the credit he wants. “The King of Kong” is a not a film specifically aimed at the eighties dorks who grew up with this, Gordon makes a film that centers around the classic story of David and Goliath, the underdog who attempts to topple a master, and everyone from gamers to casual movie goers will be engrossed from start to finish.

Gordon provides a story of the underdog that’s classic and yet utterly simplistic. “King of Kong” is a compelling, weird, and often times touching spin on video gamers doing what they do best, and striving for a goal, however trivial. It’s much better than the fictional crap you’ll often find in theaters.

  • There are talks of making "King of Kong" into a live action dramedy.

 

 

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