Saturday, November 01, 2008


KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS is a hillarious documentary that contains real-life people so ludicrous it feels like a Ben Stiller movie. Centre-stage is Billy Mitchell, a Ronald D Moore look-a-like egomaniac who thinks the whole world worships him because he's good at playing a 1980s arcade game. This is a man who has the ego of Gordon Gekko and absolutely no sense of irony. Mitchell basically spends his life being superior and schmoozing his fawning acolytes. Chief among them is Brian Kuh, a particularly weasally pretender to the title of "King of Kong". But Kuh aside, the amazing thing is that apparently very nice people are willing to give Mitchell so much time, and to envy his lifestyle so much. Take Walter Day, the referee of Donkey Kong competitions: "I wanted the glory, I wanted the fame. I wanted the pretty girls to come up and say, "Hi, I see that you're good at Centipede"." Because the hot girls so OBVIOUSLY go for guys who are good at arcade games! Seriously, you couldn't make this shit up!

Then one day, Mitchell's little racket is blown up by the appearance of a nice-guy-loser called Steve Wiebe (rhymes with "dweeb"). Wiebe is such a non-entity he's endearing, and he so evidently gets up the nose of Mitchell, Kuh et al that you can't help but be swept up in his journey to FunSpot to take on the world title. Evidently, Wiebe is brilliant at Donkey Kong. Mitchell is also, presumably brilliant. But the humour comes from Mitchell's complete cowardice in facing down Wiebe in public. It's positively embarassing watching the defending champion wriggle out of public competition and losing the respect of his peers.

Now, you could accuse Seth Gordon of using the slippery old Final Cut Pro to make Mitchell look like an idiot and Wiebe look like a hero. But how do you edit to create lines as Pure Comedy Gold as this: "I've pointed out to Steve that he's the person he is today because he came under the wrath of Bill Mitchell." I mean, who talks about their own wrath in the third person?

You HAVE to watch this movie. Don't wait for the feature film remake. Hear it from the horse's mouth!

KING OF KONG was released last year in the US and in June in the UK. It is available on DVD.

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