Review: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

In 1982, LIFE magazine collected the world's most acclaimed video gamers for a year-end photo shoot. Billy Mitchell, the world record holder for Centipede, was among this elite group of players. Although he held the record for Centipede and had accomplished the only perfect score in Mrs. Pac-man history, Mitchell had been tracking the word record for Donkey Kong for quite some time. Then at that photo shoot, surrounded by the twenty best video games of that time, Mitchell almost doubled the previous record on his way to 874,300 points, a record that many felt would never be broken.

Enter Steve Wiebe. In 2003 Wiebe, after getting laid off, discovers Mitchell's so called "˜unbeatable record' and sets out on a journey to shatter the twenty-one-year-old record. Over the next four years, Wiebe, along with director Gordon and his camera crew, is sent on an emotional roller coaster as he fights the most unthinkable obstacles to become a household name in the world of Donkey Kong.

Gordon struck gold by discovering this story, and has successfully turned it into a hysterical journey that no one should miss. Seeing Wiebe struggle to not only conquer the game of Donkey Kong, but also the respect of the fellow gamers, is just as inspiring as it is fun. Billy Mitchell plays the villain role to perfection. Being named the "˜Player of the Century' in 1999, Billy has been able to live off his gaming records for over twenty years and seems to be quite comfortable being the uncontested greatest. When Wiebe travels over 3,000 miles to challenge Mitchell to a playoff, Billy kindly refuses, stating that he doesn't have the time. Is Mitchell afraid that there is someone out there better than him, or is he really being overworked in his hot sauce business? ... You be the judge.

In the end, the film is a great piece of work that should not be overlooked. Though it has an extremely short running time of 82 minutes, the film is rich in story, characters and comedy, providing one of the best movie-going experiences of the summer.

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About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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