Friday, February 22, 2008

The King of Kong

I love Netflix! My latest recommendation is The King of Kong. Yes, it is a real geek fest . . . and their King is some kind of Kenny Loggins '85 clone--the HAIR is something to BEHOLD--but there's also this very normal guy stepping up to challenge the Geek Kong God in all his Flowing Hair glory. You would think that a documentary about two guys battling over the top Donkey Kong score would be, at best, boringly weird, but hold your critique and give it a shot.

First, you can't dream up this cast of characters. There's Billy Mitchell, his perfectly blown-out hair only distracting for a moment before his mouth opens and a never ending collection of extremely confident musings, utterances, and declarations of his complete and undefeatable supremacy flow freely.

Then there's the Straight Out of Time cast of game geeks, most of which display all the classic tics of social malfunction and blustery overconfidence that you've seen in every arcade in Anytown USA. These were the kids fixed to their Commodore 64s all those years ago . . . now they're balding, wrinkly, with grays growing freely (not Billy tho! Not that magnificent Bob Segar mane!) but they remain devoted to the game, the classic arcade games of the Glory Days.

The odd man out, so to speak, is plain old Steve Wiebe, the interloper, the challenger to the Geek God Billy, who dares to rise from nowhere to break the Donkey Kong record. His name, pronounced "wee bee" is repeatedly mispronounced "weeb" . . . on purpose? An ironic slip? In a room full of dweebs, Steve Wiebe is maddeningly ordinary: mid-30s, married, two kids, lives in the suburbs, played baseball and basketball in high school, etc. etc. Except he has this funny thing about him, these magical hands. They make him a good ball player, an amazing drummer, and a true master of Donkey Kong. Even better than that, he's a genuinely good guy. His low key, easy going, simple manner makes him a compelling and heartfelt hero. I said it. Hero!

It is absolutely captivating to watch these two circle each other in their own, strange little Cobra strike, kung fu, windmilling DK cage match. Even if you don't love the game (I like it for about 3 minutes, after which I've died exactly 15 times, and then I hate it hate it and throw the controller), you'll love the gamers and their kooky arcade world.

“I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be the center of attention. 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.’”--Walter Day, The King of Kong


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I HEARD about this! Tell Netflix to send it to me!

I love you funny crazy woman!

1:24 AM  

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