Ken Tucker
February 01, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
84 minutes
Limited Release Date
08/17/07
director
Seth Gordon
distributor
Picturehouse
genre
Documentary

We gave it an A-

It’s possible that behind every junky pop subculture in America, there exist tales as enthralling as the one told in the amazingly funny and, yes, moving King of Kong. All it may take is a filmmaker as diligent and lucky as Seth Gordon, who discovered the epic-in-their-own-minds battle between Donkey Kong players Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell. Shaping the story into a rich narrative that includes back-stabbing ruthlessness and Transcendental Meditation mediation, King of Kong becomes a documentary for the ages.

Wiebe, a deceptively ordinary Joe who’s been toggling his joystick since the ’80s, and Mitchell, a cornball-slick operator who peddles hot sauce when he’s not climbing Kong ladder rungs, are the yin and yang of arcade gaming. One’s humble; one’s an egomaniac. Their friends think they are both geniuses and nutcases. And when the film reaches its final showdown, you’re so involved you may start yelling at your screen.

Extras include a detailed commentary by Gordon and a few producers; the not-to-be-missed ”Stylings of Billy Mitchell” (about how much hairspray Mitchell uses on his I’m-with-Styx ‘do); and the maybe-you-should-miss ”Music of Steven J. Wiebe” (there’s a reason this keyboardist never made it). See King of Kong and learn what it means to never ”chumpatize” yourself. A-

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