For almost a year now, I’ve been hearing amazing things about this little documentary called “The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters” that without exception, every single person I know who has seen it has totally RAVED about it. The idea behind the movie seems like a silly one:
Here’s the synopsis:
A middle-school science teacher and a hot sauce mogul vie for the Guinness World Record on the arcade classic, Donkey Kong. In 1982, LIFE Magazine assembled the worlds greatest gamers for a photo shoot that would become the center spread of their 1982 Year-In-Photos edition. Billy Mitchell, who would later be named the Gamer of the Century, was one of the invitees. Mitchell, the World Record holder on Centipede, had been tracking the score on Donkey Kong, and knew he could take that title as well. In front of the 20 best gamers in the world, Billy scored 874,300 points, a record many thought would never be broken. In 2003, 35 year old family man Steve Wiebe, after losing his job at Boeing, found solace in Donkey Kong. Steve stumbled upon Billy Mitchells record online, and set out to break it. He began perfecting his game every night after his wife and kids went to bed, and not only surpassed Billys record, but ended up with a thought-to-be-impossible 1,000,000 points. A tidal wave of media coverage followed, and Steve Wiebe quickly became a celebrity in his hometown of Seattle, WA. He also rediscovered his love for teaching, and regained the respect of all who once doubted him. Meanwhile, back in Hollywood, FL, Billy Mitchell hatched a plan to reclaim his fallen Donkey Kong record In the months that followed, Steve and Billy engaged in a cross-country duel to see who could set the high score that would be included in the 2007 Guinness World Records book and become The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Along the way, both men learned valuable lessons about what it means to be a father, a husband, and a true champion discovering that you dont always need to win to be a winner.
How great could this be right? I mean, it’s a silly movie about silly people who play silly video games right?
Anyway, last night Doug Nagy and I were invited to the DVD release party of “King of Kong”. The party was held at this great little REAL arcade in Los Angeles. It was a great time! They turned all the video games on so they played fo free, had an open bar and food. We joked a couple of times that this was like a childhood dream come true. Free video games in an arcade with free booze. Val halla.
Anyway, at the party I mentioned to one of the PR girls that I hadn’t seen the movie yet. She quickly disappeared and came back with a copy of the film for me. SWEET! So Doug and I hung out some more, and once we got back to the Movie Blog Compound, we popped in the movie… and for the next 90 we were totally glued to the screen. Ladies and Gentlemen… The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is the best documentary I’ve seen this past year. It’s beyond brilliant.
Director Seth Gordon does one of the most masterful jobs telling this story. The film is cut and edited in such a way that the drama leaps off the screen at you. The “characters” are compelling… better than most you’ll find in any fictional film. You totally love the “good guy” (Steve Wiebe), and you totally hate the giant dick of a bad guy (Billy Mitchell) and all his little bitch friends.
Steve is a guy you want to hang out with, that you wish you knew… and that you can’t help but cheer for. His life has had its rough spots… a lot of things haven’t gone his way (at one point we find out that he got laid off from his career job the exact same day he already signed the mortgage papers for his new house. OUCH! Steve is an emotional guy, sweet and sensitive. At several points in the film he’s in tears.
One thing that really jumped out at me, and this may sound silly, was the notion that what these guys were don’t ISN’T IMPORTANT. But I remember thinking to myself… ISN’T IT IMPORTANT? What makes it not important? To this man, Steve Wiebe, a guy who just wanted and needed something significant for his life… for something to go right, for something to work out… for the need to achieve… the need to compete… the need to accomplish something… wasn’t it important??? I submit that for this man, and for all it meant to him… playing Donkey Kong WAS INDEED IMPORTANT, and I defy anyone who has seen the film to tell me otherwise.
Folks, I’m not joking around here. Believe the hype. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a remarkable, funny, heart breaking, entertaining and touching movie… all rolled into one. BELIEVE THE HYPE! This movie rules! Over all I give The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters a 9.5 out of 10. I wish I had seen it sooner. The DVD comes out on January 29th. Get your ass to a store and get it right away!
You can watch our video review here. Waring: This video review contains a minor spoiler in it.