F.I.L.M. of the Week (July 8, 2011)

8 07 2011

It’s always interesting to see the humble roots of Hollywood directors.  Some of them start in short films, others in behind-the-scenes work like cinematography or unit direction.  In the case of Seth Gordon, who directs this weekend’s big opener “Horrible Bosses,” it was documentary film.  His first feature length film, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” is actually much better than any of his narrative work and is thus my pick for the “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”

Gordon’s movie seems to have a whole lot more in common with the classic mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap” than it does with “Inside Job” or any of the other Academy favorites this year.  At times, it is so ridiculous that it makes you question whether it’s actually real.  But as the saying goes, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, and that DEFINITELY applies here.

However, questioning plausibility isn’t the only question that “The King of Kong” makes you ponder.  It cleverly asks the audience, without preaching or making it plainly obvious, to reconsider what they think is a sport and who they think is an athlete.  We’ve so narrowly defined athletics to games played on fields and courts by people with enormous physical prowess.  But basketball and baseball took time catch on – so are we entering the age where videogaming becomes a sport?

We are entering the fourth decade of gaming, and Donkey Kong champions Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe sure fit the bill of an athlete.  They have learned the ins and outs of their game; they have practiced nonstop; they have trained and toned their minds to meet the game.  So why can’t they be called athletes?  What makes their rivalry any different that Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s?  We laugh now, but they sure think they will be the Cy Youngs of their sport.  The joke could one day be on us when more people watch the HALO championship than the Super Bowl.



One response

8 07 2011
Steven Flores

I love this doc. It’s truly fun from start to finish and you root for the underdog.

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