Sep 16, 2007

Movie Critics: THE KING OF KONG (2007)

by Dave White

Who's In It: Billy Mitchell, Steve Wiebe, Mr. Awesome

The Basics: Men love to fight. It's why there are civil wars and Spanish Inquisitions and Hell's Kitchen and Puck from Real World: San Francisco. It's also why I watched a movie about competitive air-guitaring earlier this year and why I just watched this one about two dudes who want to Donkey Kong each other into an early grave. Chicken-wing retail pioneer, hot-sauce CEO and reigning high-scoring Donkey Kong champ Mitchell gets his record challenged by high school science teacher Wiebe. Then the soundtrack plays a song from The Karate Kid. Yeah, it's like that.

What's the Deal? Unlike spelling bees and dog shows and drag balls and air-guitar competitions, no one really seems to care about Donkey Kong smackdowns. I mean, yes, someone does, but their numbers are small. More people will probably watch this than will ever actually take time out of their lives to witness an ultimate grudge-match battle live and in person. And that's why this is cool: It compels you to be almost affectionately concerned about the fates of these two weirdos for a full 80 minutes, but mostly for Wiebe the science teacher, because Mitchell, with his prince-of-darkness persona, has long since crossed the line of hard nerd no return.

How to Explain Mr. Awesome: Nearly impossible. He's a supporting character in this geek-a-thon; he likes Missile Command, and he's very good at it. But even fewer people care about Missile Command than give a flying heck about Donkey Kong. This makes him upset. And you will witness that. He's not that awesome.

Best Scene: Wiebe seems like a good father, but even good fathers have moments where they neglect their children. Unfortunately for Wiebe, he had his while the cameras were on. So when his little kid needs help in the bathroom while Dad's busy playing Donkey Kong, you might not know whether to laugh or cringe when the child shouts, "Dad! Wipe my butt! Stop playing!"

Who'll Hate This: Vintage video-gamers who think they are the true champions of the "sport." Also, people like my mom who can't even figure out what people are doing when they play video games. Like when I tried to explain to her once that I smoked the competition while Wii-boxing as a heavyweight Joan Didion, she just shook her head.


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Alex Heaton said...

I love king of kong too. I created some fan art at Check it out.

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