Monday, January 11, 2010

"King of Kong": A Tale of Good vs. Evil

A few months ago, as Andrew and I browsed our ridiculously large Netflix instant queue on the XBox 360 (sorry to sound like a commercial, but we seriously watch more movies now streaming to the XBox through Netflix than we do with the physical disks that come in the mail)...where was I? Oh, yes, as we tried to decide what to watch, the movie "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" popped up, and Andrew said, "I've been wanting to see this for awhile. Let's watch it. You'll like it."

Right. Because sometimes our taste in movies coincides, and sometimes it's completely polar opposite (an Italian B-horror movie to fall asleep to? no thank you!). But it was the middle of a weekend day, and if it was horrible I could always go find something else to do, so what the hell. Roll it.

No, it's not a horror movie. It's a documentary about the struggle in the land of classic arcade games, for who can earn (and hold) the highest score in Donkey Kong. And unless you're a video game, 80's, or documentary nerd, you might not think this is one for you. But you'd be missing out.

The premise and the characters seem banal and completely everyday at first. Oh, a guy loves to play Donkey Kong in his garage. Good for him. So he's a little addicted. I know a few people like that. But as the story progresses, the lines of good and evil become clearly drawn, and you find yourself completely immersed in the story, rooting for the protagonist, hoping beyond hope that this is a fictional story and the good guy must always win, why must you be a documentary and the outcome is uncertain, why? You find yourself like Fred Savage in "The Princess Bride" saying, "Jesus, Grandpa, why did you tell me this story?!", practically screaming at the screen, "It's not fair!! How can this happen?! Good must prevail!"

I don't want to say anything that will ruin the story, so here's the trailer to whet your whistle:

This movie has stuck with me for months now, and it's just one of those that renews your faith in the world and reminds you that there really are good people out there that deserve to win. The question is if they ever actually get to. I won't ruin the ending (you can look it up online if you're really that interested and don't want to watch the movie). But the journey is the part that's stuck with me, and it's just not the same to jump to the last page and find out the ending without having walked in these peoples' shoes and come out on the other side, for better or worse. In a strange way, it makes me want to live a better life. Perhaps to prove that good can conquer evil. All from a documentary about a little video game made back in the 80s.

And let me just add, that if you do decide to watch this, make sure you watch through the credits. Trust me, you'll thank me later.


Anonymous said...

I saw this awhile back too and loved it so much, I instigated 'movie night' at the office. It was great to see everyone really get into it, and even blow off later plans for drinking in order to get to the end. I loved Billy Mitchell's hair and ties and I loved the drama of the gaming world. Great post!

toothpick said...

how did i end up anonymous? that was me - toothpick

vivzan said...

As you know, I recently saw this film and loved it too! I told you yeah, that I thought Billy Mitchell looked familiar and then learned he grew up in South Florida and I lived in Hollywood, FL for a time. The game initials USA (which he said in the film is what he used to use) was #1 on a lot of arcade games I played growing up in FL (but chances are, it's very common to use that). Still, he looks very familiar.


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