King of Kong
Billy Mitchell needs his rocket sauce if he’s going to win back his record!


Golden Mug

NOMINEE:
Best Documentary

Theatrical Release Date: 08/17/2007
Director: Seth Gordon

The 80′s were an odd time…an electronic neon covered hangover of the swingin’ 70′s. But it did give rise to a few things…one of those being the classic arcade game Donkey Kong where a plumber named Mario seeks to snatch his girlfriend from the clutches of an insidious ape.

Fast-forward 30 years. One man, Billy Mitchell, has held the title of Donkey Kong World Champion for all that time. He was never tested. His record was never even approached.

But when the record that had defined his life is eclipsed by Steve Wiebe (Wee-bee) a decent hard working family man from Seattle, we see what kind of champion he is.

Now this decent everyman schoolteacher seeks to snatch his world record score from the clutches of an insidious champion.

Wiebe is the everyman. Laid off from his job he starts to play Donkey Kong in his garage. And he is good. He videotapes himself breaking Mitchell’s record.

Then Mitchell questions the record and starts scheming to discredit Wiebe and get back his prize, doing everything a heel in the WWE might do. Wiebe counters by breaking it live. Mitchell sends his friends after him, he ducks him, and he refuses to even acknowledge Wiebe’s accomplishment.

It is odd to see something as good natured and silly as Donkey Kong turned into something serious and poisonous between these two. The movie is fun, and you just want these two guys to face off. Will it happen? What about the referee and record keeper, who has been friends with Billy for over a quarter century?

Will he turn his back on classic gamings’ biggest ambassador and acknowledge Wiebe as a champion? What about Wiebe’s family – how much of this obsession can they tolerate?

All these questions are answered by the end of the film, and it is certainly a fun ride. The movie is well paced and well shot, although I am not sure how they found any light on the inside of some of these usually dark arcades. And the story is so cut and dry between decent guy and scheming champ that it almost seems like they are performing ridiculous roles in a mockumentary. But those roles and characters are what drive this tremendous story.

It’s a solid 4 out 5. So go see it. What else are you going to do? Stay home and play video games?