Billy Mitchell is God, and I'm a fool

Oldie did it to me...again. You may have read, a few months back, that Old tricked me in to seeing a movie without telling me what it was. He got me to the theater under the pretense that the movie's description would not do it justice, thus it should remain a secret. It was implied it would be a pleasant surprise. That movie, The Host, was a foreign film that takes place in Seoul, South Korea, where a mutant sea monster terrorizes the city.

Had he told me the plot in advance, I would not have gone. He knew that. He knows I wouldn't go to a lot of movies that he gets thoroughly enthused for.

Fast forward to the present. Last week, Old pulled out the, "Hey, there's a really good movie I want you and Kes to see" card. Now, I've been down this road before, so I was immediately reluctant. However, in the past, I've actually liked the obscure movies he coerced me into seeing. So, being the open minded and hopeful person that I am, I agreed to go. Not without conditions, though. I had him clarify that we weren't seeing one of his fantasy wizard movies, full of magic and sorcery.

When he told me the name of the movie, I tried to imagine a story line. However, with the title, King of Kong: a Fistful of Quarters, I got contradictory images in my head. On the one hand, I was thinking about a giant ape climbing the Empire State Building; on the other, I was thinking about a spoof of the old Spaghetti Westerns with Clint Eastwood. Never did I imagine I would be watching a documentary about two video game legends competing for the world record score in Donkey Kong.

The movie revolves around video game legend, Billy Mitchell, an ego maniacal gamer from the "Golden Age of Arcade Games," and Steve Wiebe, a nice family man with unbelievable Donkey Kong skills. Billy was the first ever to record a perfect score in Pacman and, until recently, was the world's highest scorer in Donkey Kong. Steve is the one who took Billy's record, causing Mitchell to get his panties in a bunch and try to destroy Wiebe's credibility.
The story follows Weibe as he attempts to beat Billy's long-standing record. Billy, on the other hand, shows his sinister side as he argues against the authenticity of Wiebe's eventual high score, while also making attempts to outdo the newbie. It is apparent in the film that Mitchell fears losing the reputation of the "king of kong," as his self-righteous attributes shine brightly throughout. In fact, Billy, at one point in the movie, likens the controversy surrounding him to that of the abortion issue. In multiple scenes, Billy can be seen meticulously combing his long hair prior to making public appearances. In one such public appearance, a reporter asks "how are you." Billy responds, "Perfect, haven't you heard."
Weibe, on the other hand, is the ultimate good guy with a competitive edge. He is a science teacher and family man, with one weakness: he is extremely obsessive. It is this obsessiveness that leads him down the path to Donkey Kong stardom, as he eventually unseats Mitchell as the King of Kong. Whereas Billy is sneaky and will do whatever it takes to remain the king (including sending in a potentially doctored video of him achieving a high score while playing), Weibe makes an attempt to play his record breaking games in public or recording quality videos of his play, leaving little question of the authenticity of his achievements.

The cast of the movie is rounded out with an assortment of odd characters who all share a common trait: they have a weakness for old school video games. Most are in their late 30's, hailing from the same "Golden Age of Arcade Games." They are geeky, snobby, and have amazingly poor social skills. They refer to girls as DDG, or "drop dead gorgeous," and use their video game superiority as some sort of social status. They live by the motto, "never surrender," and when they beat opponents they refer to their win as "a shellacking." Many of them have formed an official club of gamers called Twin Galaxies. This club has since become the official referee in the video gaming world. They authenticate and make official all video game records. As such, the Guinness Book of World Records depends on Twin Galaxies to report respective record holders. It is no coincidence that Billy Mitchell is good friends with the Twin Galaxies consortium, and subsequently had a huge influence on the tribulations Steve Wiebe went through in pursuing the record.
As in the movie, The Host, I found myself intrigued with what I was watching. The urge to end my friendship with Old upon hearing about the move waned, and I ended up liking it. As a result, Oldie's reputation for finding quality, albeit obscure, odd-ball movies holds.


Oldie said...

That's "Wee-bee", not "Weeb"...

Sluggy said...

You almost made me want to see this movie. Then I remembered that I can see geeks every Monday night on "The Big Band Theory". So, I'll save my money this time.

Aurora said...

i thought this movie looked interesting when I saw the previews--thanks for the review, jeff...

Anonymous said...

I really think billy mitchel is a terrible person. I almost thought the movie is fake because billy is the perfect evil villain. He is cruel, hypocritical, self absorbed, attention seeker, and almost certainly a cheater. The world would be a better place if people like him did not exist. Even the fact that billy sells hot sauce is fitting because it hurts to eat. I hate hot sauce. One day i hope billy mitchel chokes to death on his own vomit soon after Two Galaxies throws out his new record.THe people who verified this new record were his two lackeys and he performed it live.... at a mortgage event. Billy in honestly too evil to be alive.