Friday, April 9, 2010

Netflix Stream This, Bitch!

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

     I'm a sucker for documentaries like this. The King of Kong is a 2007 film (in the same niche as Spellbound and Word Wars) that follows one man, Steve Wiebe, as he tries to become the all time high scorer in the history of the arcade game Donkey Kong. Steve Wiebe's arch nemesis, Billy Mitchell, is still world-renowned in the year of the film for having the all time high score in both Donkey Kong and Centepede. The story is about their clash at the top of the Donkey Kong world rankings. 
     You couldn't think of a better, more dramatic story than this: In Iowa, a man named Walter Day founds an unheard of organization named Twin Galaxies, a group that keeps track of high scores of most United States-based arcade games. Billy Mitchell is like the Jesus of video games, with long dark hair and an attitude than can only be described as douchebaggery. He says in the film that his videogame accomplishments are his greatest in life (other than his family), and he is the founder of some local, successful homemade hot sauces (I couldn't make this shit up). Hundreds and hundred and hundreds of miles away in Washington State lives our underdog, the fore-mentioned Steve Wiebe. Recently laid off as a Boeing engineer, he spends all of his free time on a Donkey Kong machine that he bought for his garage, neglecting his other interests in life including his love of sports, music, and family. 
     To give away more would rob the viewer of many hilarious and cringe-inducing pleasures involving tainted and tampered-with Donkey Kong machines, private investigators, and friendships and families strained to extremely high and sad levels. Even if you have never played a video game in your life, it doesn't matter: the story can be used as a metaphor for anyone's passion about a hobby that contains a competitive edge. The King of Kong is as watchable as Donkey Kong is frustrating. 

97% on Rotten Tomatoes, 83 out of 100 on Metacritic. 

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