I just finished watching the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters about the battle for the Donkey Kong world record. Not being much of a gamer myself, I was only minimally interested in watching this when it came out a few years ago. This week, I received an illustrating gig that would parody some of the events in the film (however, any similarity to any real people living or dead is purely coincidental, of course), so I sat down and watched it.
Bottom line: this movie is freaking awesome! King of Kong is about competitive videogaming, in particular vintage games. It's been a long time since I cared about video games at all, but when I did, games like Donkey Kong, Galaga, Pac-Man, etc were the ones that mattered to me, and in this doc the old school arcade games and the band of geeks that master them take center stage. Director Seth Gordon (Four Christmases) did a great job weaving this tapestry of nerdcore minutia into a well-crafted underdog story.
King of Kong follows the roller-coaster ride of high school science teacher Steve Wiebe (pronounced WEE bee), and his battle to be recognized as the world's greatest Donkey Kong player. The film paints him as a decent (if obsessive) family man who wears his heart on his sleeve. Like any protagonist, Wiebe fights against many opposing forces in the pursuit of his goal, much to the chagrin of his supportive but perpetually exhausted wife and kids.
The forces that oppose Steve are personified best in the film by hot sauce king Billy Mitchell, the guy who's held the Donkey Kong record since the mid-eighties. Aside from the fact that he rocks a textbook mullet in the new millenium, Billy says and does plenty of things in the movie that classify him as a first-rate douchebag. If by the midway point of watching King of Kong you don't freaking loathe him, it's pro'lly because YOU'RE a first-rate douchebag as well.
Whatever the case, Seth Gordon laces the events together in a way that builds suspense and makes the film have a sports drama feel. Well, 'drama' might not be the right word... listening to these dorks wax long about the importance of arcade game supremacy is actually quite hilarious... but Steve Wiebe is such a down-to-earth everyman that it's very easy to get pulled into his story and root for him. And again the direction is well-paced, spending just enough time with all the characters so we get to see and relate to everyone. I'd love to see this remade as a comedy starring Will Ferrell (Land of the Lost, Talladega Nights, Anchorman,Stranger Than Fiction). It would also make an awesome comic... Maybe Bryan Lee O'Malley could tackle it now that he's done with Scott Pilgrim... anyways, King of Kong is dope! Watch it if you haven't already!