May 17th, 2008

THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS (2007) *** ½

If you were anyone who was anyone in the 80’s, you had to have spent hours upon hours in an arcade playing video games.  My poison was Ms. Pac-Man, but for Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe (pronounced WEE-BEE), the two subjects of this uneven but irresistible documentary, it’s Donkey Kong. 

 

In the 80’s, Mitchell set the high score world record at Donkey Kong and was celebrated as the best video gamer of all time.  Cut to the present day where Wiebe, a meek father of two, tapes himself beating the high score on a Donkey Kong machine in his garage.  The tape’s authenticity is immediately challenged by Mitchell and his cadre of kowtowing video gamers and Wiebe has to set out again and again to beat Mitchell’s high score and prove himself to his incredulous peers (not to mention Mitchell) and get into the Guinness’ Book of World Records.

 

This flick will be immensely enjoyable for most anybody, even if you didn’t spend any time in an arcade in the 80’s.  Right away the audience’s sympathies are with Wiebe.  He’s just a nice guy looking for a little recognition for doing something that no one was able to do.  Mitchell on the other hand is a conniving, pompous dickweed who couldn’t be any more full of himself.  As a human being, he’s thoroughly despicable, but as a movie villain, he’s the perfect guy you love to hate. 

 

Although I wish the filmmakers delved deeper into Wiebe’s family life, I particularly liked their use of some choice 80’s songs on the soundtrack to showcase Wiebe as the underdog. 

 

As much as you may loathe Mitchell in this movie, you have to admit, everything that comes out of his mouth is freaking hilarious.  You couldn’t find anyone as conceited as this guy, especially when he says shit like, “No matter what I say, it draws controversy… like the abortion issue.”