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The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

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Whoa, talk about Lord of the Geeks.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, is a difficult movie for even the on-the-fence, black-framed-glasses-wearing, but-I-watch-Heroes nerd to penetrate. However, once you, poser-art-nerd, and you, normal person, are sucked into the film, over the threshold into full-fledged, speech-impedimented, retired-at-30 Nerddom, there’s no turning back. You’ll like it.

Kong, a documentary directed by Shut Up & Sing cinematographer Seth Gordon, sells itself as one small but mythical battle, punctuated by Animotion and Survivor tunes, in the ongoing war between the forces of Good and Evil, Light and Dark, Underdog and Douchebasket. It also happens to be about a Donkey Kong rivalry.

Playing for the Underdogs is Steve Wiebe (rhymes with “dweeby”), a meek family man who found solace in the arcade game when he was laid off at Boeing … the same day he and his wife signed for their house.

And for the Douchebaskets is Billy Mitchell, a hot-sauce magnate who set his Donkey Kong record nearly 25 years ago, after which his ego never deflated. But how could it, with hangers-on and minions drawn to his powers like Mario to Pauline, like the One Ring to Sauron? Twin Galaxies, the organization responsible for maintaining official high-score records, even appears in Kong to be Jedied by Mitchell to the point of conflict of interest. It’s an exclusive family.

And so it comes as no surprise that when total outsider Steve — who has rigged a camera above the arcade machine in his garage for the purpose of capturing a record-breaking game — sends in his high-score-breaking tape, the Galaxies geeks don’t buy it.

Steve travels cross-country to prove his skill on a “sanctioned” machine, whatever that means, in the presence of Galaxies gaming referees (oh yes, they exist). And from there the competition between him and the sinister-looking, almost too-evil-to-be-true Mitchell really begins.

The editing’s clunky, the final score is outdated — nevertheless The King of Kong is worth the watch and a fistful of quarters … should you not have other plans for them.


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