"Intense Rivalries Over Classic Video Games"
THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS is an offbeat, yet enjoyable documentary about the unexpectedly cutthroat and rather bizarre fascination with the world of competitive arcade gaming with classic games such as Donkey Kong.
Since the early 1980s, Billy Mitchell has been the king of classic arcade games. Hailed by some as the video game player of the century, Billy’s Donkey Kong record of 874,300 points has stood for over 25 years. That is, of course, until Steve Wiebe enters the picture, a life-long challenger who, according to his wife and his closest friends, always seems to come up short of being number one in anything. A failed baseball player and a failed professional musician, Steve is a man driven to climb to the top in some field. When Steve learns that the Donkey Kong world record high score has not been beaten for over 25 years, Steve gets an arcade machine for his garage and dedicates himself to becoming number one at the classic game.
Steve’s first attempt at breaking the record is deemed by the Twin Galaxies international scorekeepers association to be fraudulent because of a possible hacked game computer board. So, he decides to travel to the national gaming week at Fun Spot Arcade in New Jersey and attempt his new record in a public venue. Next, Steve travels to Hollywood, Florida to compete in a head-to-head challenge against Billy Mitchell at an international gaming competition. However, Billy refuses to show.
Battling not only his own self-image, Steve must stand as the outsider against a group of people who have protected Billy’s legacy for nearly three decades. No one at Twin Galaxies wants to see Steve beat Billy’s record. However, with tireless dedication and drive, Steve, a life-long second-place man, finally beats Billy’s record to become the world-record holder and the reigning King of Kong.
Surprisingly enjoyable, THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS is a delightful documentary that a lot of people, including some older children and teenagers, may enjoy, especially those who get nostalgic seeing classic arcade games. The movie contains very few objectionable contents, some foul language, some brief references to things like transcendental meditation, some cigarette use, and miscellaneous immorality such as lying. Those elements, though, do not outweigh the enjoyment factor of this documentary.
The saddest element of the documentary may be – tongue-in-cheek – the moment that viewers realize they have become emotionally fully engaged in the epic struggle of grown men with mullets fiercely competing like gladiators on an arcade game that is several decades old. One judge even goes so far as to say that this is one of the greatest rivalries of modern civilization. Rather than spending their lives in more worthwhile causes, these men dedicate their days and nights to achieving world-record status on a game that has no eternal consequence. The movie does have some redemptive elements, however, including one man directly quoting the Book of Proverbs.
THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS is a fun 83 minutes for audience members who enjoy documentaries, especially those who grew up in the 70s and 80s and who will be able to fondly remember the days of pizza parlors and joysticks.
(Pa, H, B, FR, L, V, N, A, D, M) Mostly mixed light pagan worldview with some humanist elements such as a quote from author William S. Burroughs about “[our] universe is a war universe. There may be other universes, but ours is based on war and games,” although there are some redemptive biblical worldview elements as man struggles to overcome odds, man quotes Scripture from Proverbs 27:17 as “iron sharpens iron,” woman says that a particular blessing is a “Godsend” for her husband, and another man says, “I’m not God, I don’t have all the answers,” and one brief reference to false religions as one man mentions how he practices transcendental meditation; eight light obscenities, one light profanity (“Oh my God”) and one substitution obscenity “frikkin”; no violence shown but plenty of shots of classic video games with chases and such such as Donkey Kong and PacMan; no sexual content; naturalistic upper male nudity of man in a swimsuit, some female cleavage, and one very quick shot of an old photo of a bodybuilder fully nude but his privates are strategically covered by female bodybuilder posing in front of him; some beer seen in background at a restaurant; some cigarette smoking shown and one man says, “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, my addiction is video games”; and, some miscellaneous immorality includes some lying, some cowardice and man assumes he is the victim of a conspiracy to keep his Donkey Kong scores from being officially recognized as the video gaming community wants to keep the 25-year-old record in tact.
THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS is an offbeat, yet enjoyable documentary about the unexpectedly cutthroat and bizarre fascination with the world of competitive arcade gaming. Since the early 1980s, Billy Mitchell has been the king of classic arcade games. His Donkey Kong record has stood for 25 years. Then, Steve Wiebe, a life-long challenger and failed baseball player and failed musician, gets a Donkey Kong machine and dedicates himself to becoming number one at the classic game. He tries to challenge Billy’s record, but Billy and the Twin Galaxies international scorekeepers association put up obstacles in his way.
Surprisingly enjoyable, THE KING OF KONG is a delightful documentary that a lot of people, including some older children and teens, may enjoy, especially those who get nostalgic seeing classic arcade games. The movie contains brief foul language, smoking and a reference to transcendental meditation, but there are also positive references to God and the Book of Proverbs. Of course, these men dedicate their days and nights to achieving world-record status on a game that has no eternal consequence. That said, the movie is fun to watch.