Monday, September 03, 2007

The Best Movie You've Never Heard Of: The King of Kong

Last weekend when my husband and I went to see Once, I noticed another movie playing at the same theater - The King of Kong. It sounded like a movie having something to do with King Kong, so I didn't think much more about it (just not that into the big guy, what can I say?). Then I came across a review in a magazine and realized that this film is actually a documentary of sorts about the classic 80s arcade game Donkey Kong, and focused specifically on the rivalry between two championship players: Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe. I was ALL OVER IT, and decided that I MUST see this movie as soon as possible.

We went last night and were not disappointed. I dare say The King of Kong is one of the best movies I've seen all year. I not only laughed out loud, but also cried... and on top of that - I cheered and clapped (along with the rest of the audience) at more than one point in the hour and 20 minutes it was on-screen. This film is one of the best examples I can think of where the truth is indeed stranger than fiction. You absolutely cannot make up "characters" like the people they followed - video game nerds and freaks throughout their whole lives - who idolize Billy Mitchell, the reigning king of Donkey Kong, and who take video games and the people who play them very, very seriously.

I don't want to give away too much about what happens in this movie, and I also don't want to hype it up too much because I know that having no expectations about a film on top of not really knowing the details of what it's about can sometimes be the key to having a great experience in the theater. What I will say is this - if I still was working for The Man, I would offer to personally refund the ticket price to anyone who sees this movie and doesn't like it. That's how confident I am that you will love it. However, since my husband has already been extremely patient and supportive with the whole "I'm not going to collect an income for a while" idea, I can't push my luck and start doling out ten-spots here and there. So you must trust me! Even if you weren't/aren't into video games or have never played Donkey Kong in your entire life - it doesn't matter... this movie goes way, way beyond the game - it's about human nature at its best and worst. There were three guys ahead of us walking out of the theater and they thought that this movie was a metaphor for life in general!

If you are still not convinced, then I plead with you to watch the trailer. If you are not the slightest bit intrigued afterward, then, to coin an 80s phrase - be that way! But I laughed all over again watching the trailer just now, and am also inspired to pull out the ol' video game console I have stored here at home.

The only bad news is that this movie may be hard to find - it's an independent movie so is most likely only going to be in major cities that have an "artsy" theater. You can click here for a list of every city (and corresponding theater) it's currently playing in, as well as a rolling release schedule for U.S. cities that continues to November. For anyone who can't get it - put it on your rental list now! And perhaps you'd like to try your hand at the game in the meantime...

Until Pauline gets saved,
- e

1 comment:

elbatoast said...

I'm a huge Donkey Kong (and Frogger and Ms Pac Man) freak.

But, alas, this movie is not playing in or near Toronto. Pity.