Tuesday, July 31, 2007

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Seth Gordon | 2007 | 79 min | USA

Billy Mitchell is a douchebag. He's also a hot sauce mogul, and he set the high score record for Donkey Kong in 1982. FFWD to a couple years ago, and still, nobody had beaten Mitchell's score. That is until down-on-his-luck family man and middle school teacher Steve Wiebe decides that beating Mitchell's score was how he wanted to spend his free time.

Holed away in his garage with a Donkey Kong arcade machine, Wiebe neglects his family night in and night out, in hopes of being the best at something. After months of practicing, and drawing lines on his monitor to remember patterns and jump points, one evening, Wiebe beats Mitchell's score. He submits a videotape of his game to Twin Galaxies, the website that's recognized by the world as the premiere video game high scores site, but there's one small problem. Twin Galaxies isn't a completely impartial jury. Billy Mitchell is one of their highest ranking members.

That's just the start of the ups and downs that face Wiebe in his mission to become the world's best Donkey Kong player. The documentary is pretty straight forward, so there isn't much cinematically to discuss, but the two main characters are great, and are supported by Walter Day, the sweet old man who started Twin Galaxies back in the 80s, and who serves as head referee.

King of Kong has all the right parts to become a minor hit, and hopefully it does. It's a highly entertaining and dramatic documentary, about one of the last things you would expect to make for such a great story.

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