“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
– Woody Allen
In 2007, a film was released that rivaled the great spaghetti westerns of Clint Eastwood.
Except there would be no shoot-out in a forgotten cemetery. No firearms would be required. The only weapons in this standoff would be a keen intellect and exceptional hand-eye coordination. Two men would compete to see who had the fastest hands in the world…at an arcade console.
Take away the bright lights and the quick-draw persona, and Eastwood is only an actor. However, every person in Seth Gordon’s film, “The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters” is 100 percent real. And all of their footage would be compiled into into a documentary about the Guinness World Record for the highest Donkey Kong score (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ly_lWN_3-s).
When it was all over and the crowds dispersed, three names would go down in the annals of history: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell and Walter Day.
Steve Wiebe is a stocky failed athlete and public school science teacher from Washington. A simple man, his priorities include being a good father, husband and trying to be a good provider for his family. Much to his dismay, Mr. Wiebe was laid off from work and found himself with too much time on his hands. At this point, he made a commitment to a life goal, showing a virtual ape from 1981 who was boss.
As someone who has been out of work can tell you, setting personal goals every day is the best way to stay positive and motivated. Steve’s just happened to be grinding out a high score on the vintage Donkey Kong arcade machine in his garage. Wiebe just wanted some personal satisfaction. When he realized that his skills were getting media attention, he was unexpectedly swept up in a world wind of competition against…
Billy Mitchell is a lanky, vain video game champion from Hollywood, FL. He wears the gamer crown and wants everyone to know it.
“Well, maybe they’d like it if I lose. I gotta try losing sometime,” Billy says, casually.
His 20-plus years of getting perfect scores in Pac-Man and other achievements made him arrogant. On rare occasions, he will show up to flaunt his success like a strutting peakcock passing other inferior birds. But most of the time, Billy Mitchell is a shifty individual who sends in videotapes of his high scores, delivered by even shadier associates.
He seems less concerned with playing Donkey Kong with Steve Wiebe in front of a crowd. Billy would rather remain enigmatic – some would say scared of losing — using his video gaming persona to expand a buffalo chicken wing sauce empire. Mitchell’s highest priority is keeping his name in the number one spot on the Twin Galaxies website (http://www.twingalaxies.com ) for a game of Donkey Kong.
Walter Day is a humble man with a receding hairline and big bushy grey beard. He is the official scorekeeper of Twin Galaxies and referee in the World Donkey Kong competition. Frequently his loyalty is caught between Billy Mitchell – being a spokesperson for video games since the early 1980s – and the integrity of his own Twin Galaxies website. Day refuses to believe the rumors that Billy Mitchell might be cheating, but even he has to acknowledge the shady behavior of Mitchell as suspicious to say the least.
Despite being a calm, levelheaded proponent of Transcendental Meditation, Day still manages to remain firm with his final decision-making. Being “the man” isn’t always easy because in the end, someone is bound to be less than thrilled with the outcome. There is not quite as much pressure as say a Superbowl referee; but to these gamers, a “wild barrel” or an “aggressive fireball’ is just as crucial as a game-winning field goal kick.
“The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters” functions similar to a Christopher Guest movie (he makes absurd ‘mockumentaries’ where all of the dialogue is adlibbed by a cast of immensely talented actors).
In Seth Gordon’s documentary, everyone is playing himself or herself, though. These people are characters in their own right who don’t need scripted dialogue. Take Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt for instance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEHY-0XWSh0). Clearly he is not a Cassanova with the ladies.
Kong finds comedy in the mundane and banal. The funny bits don’t jump out and hit you over the head; they are more subtle and down to earth. Gamers actually wear weightlifting gloves to play Marble Madness? Apparently.
I recommend “King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters” to fans of video games, rivalries and people struggling to be recognized for their given talents. The movie shows talent isn’t always found on the ice, gridiron or baseball diamond. You never know, maybe the average Joe who passes you in the shopping mall may just be a world champion some day.
© Absrd Comedy, LLC – a parody site for entertainment purposes only. Laugh. Enjoy! Individual opinions expressed are those of the individual authors, not necessarily of absrdComedy, and may not even be those of the individual authors.