King of Kong-or-An Exercise in Frustration
Coming into this movie, I had high hopes. It was a movie about competitive video game players. Heck, it was Donkey Kong! That’s a great game, right? Oh how naive I was. The film, King of Kong- A Fistful of Quarters is your stereotypical underdog story. An undefeated champion with an entourage of followers and empire built around himself finds his title challenged by an unknown underdog. The champion tries to sabotage his opponent at every turn, only to finally be bested. We the audience root for the underdog as we see his struggle develop, despise the champion, and enjoy the underdog’s eventual victory. It is a tried and true film formula that everyone loves. All it requires is a good challenge, a good villain, and a good underdog. Unfortunately, despite all its efforts, this film falls flat in supplying that final ingredient.
The film excels in the first aspect. Billy Mitchell makes for an excellent villain. Even if he is a great person in real-life, great care has been spent making him seem like a deplorable human being. He’s mean, he violates rules that he himself set, he has spies, etc. But Steve Wiebe, the protagonist, is not given this amount of care. The film tries so hard to present him as a relatable, likeable human being. He’s a teacher, he was depressed, his life-long dream of being a lifer was ruined, he threw out his wrist at the ‘most important’ moment of his life, he’s a father, he’s a husband, etc. And yet, he comes off as callous and self-absorbed.
Yes, it is good to have a dream. Yes, it is good to have a hobby. Yes, it is good to have something you are passionate about. No, it is bad to let that thing consume your life. No, it is bad to let your small child cry at you to help him, to be a father, and for you to act as though he is nothing more than a nuisance.
Yes, this has been a rant. It’s just, I came into this movie with rather high expectations. What I expected was an okay underdog story. What I got was a movie full of unrelateable and vaguely terrible human beings… Except Q-bert lady, she seemed pretty awesome.
Good on you Q-bert lady. Good on you.