Sunday, July 17, 2011

Netflix This:

Last Cup
     Documentaries are great for a myriad of reasons: they tell the story of an interesting person's life, an important political or social issue, the savagery of war, or a world-changing event in history. Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong is a documentary about an obscure (in the eyes of many non-college goers) sport that involves drinking copious amounts of beer and throwing ping-pong balls into cups. Like any entertaining documentary, Last Cup takes a subject that the majority of the world population doesn't give a shit about and makes it exciting, funny, and emotional. And that's mainly due to the human touch: similar to the wonderful King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (which followed the underdogs and the champion at professional arcade Donkey Kong playing), Last Cup tracks a select few twosome groups as they vie for the top spot in the  World Series of Beer Pong (which, at this point in time, pays out $50,000). That's the simple plot. Cameras follow these people who have decided to make it their life's mission to travel around to various bars and events, training to reach the apex of plunking ability.
     For the uninitiated (any old people who are reading this) the basics of Beer Pong (also known as Beirut) are pretty straightforward. They need to be, since after a few games your buzz may outweigh your hand-eye coordination by a large margin. You have a table with two distinct sides. You have a team of two on each side. You line a pyramid of cups half full with beer in each and take turns throwing a pong ball into the the other team's cups. Drink the beer in the cup when a ball is made. If you and your teammate both make the ball, you get to shoot again. And boy are the characters in this film awesome at it. You've got Tone from New Jersey, a roided freak with rage to match his passion for making clutch shots and playing shirtless. You've got The Iceman, a morbidly obese Jonah Hill-lookalike (seriously, he looks exactly like him) who makes a risky decision to take an eccentric rookie partner to the World Series. Shawn takes it to another level of obsessiveness: a skillful computer engineer, he designs a program and tracks every single shot and analyzes his statistics for hours after every match.
     These people and their unbelievable love of the game is entertaining enough, but add the beer and things get really interesting: spectators get in for free, and as time passes, beer and emotions flow. Crowds scream at competitors as they shoot, and they especially take a cruel (but funny) heckling to the shirtless Tone. It isn't all just fun and games though--there is real drama here. These guys have been training for months for this moment, and they act as if their livelihood depends on it. And that's ultimately what Last Cup is about: although some may find the plight of these men pathetic and joke-worthy, it's better to be the best at something than be the best at nothing.

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