The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

I watched a documentary about Donkey Kong this weekend. That’s right. I’m sure you’re having the same reaction my boyfriend had when I proposed it.

“Wait, you want us to watch a movie about people who play the video game Donkey Kong?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah, but I read all these reviews that say it’s really good,” I said. “Really.”

He gave me a look that said, Oh, you and your obscure movies. What I must tolerate.

Yeah, it was as weird as we expected, but was also, as the blurb promised, curiously compelling. Apparently, within the already, um, interesting subculture of video gamers is a group that’s hellbent on breaking records, so much so that they videotape themselves playing so that their scores can be verified by a referee. All gamers aim to achieve the highest score possible, I suppose, but these people mean business in a way that says, I will dedicate my life to conquering Kong, even if it means installing an arcade size game in my garage and playing for a billion hours straight till my eyes resemble Super Mario.

Anyway, the story focuses on a nice guy who’s trying to break a 20-year record held by a strange guy who wears skinny ties with American themes and hair straight out of the 70s—a style that prompted my boyfriend to ask four times, Hold on, when was this made?

Whether you’ve ever played Donkey Kong or not, you’ll feel the tension in this movie, evidenced by the fact that said boyfriend paused it when he got up to get some pie because he didn’t want to miss anything. I stifled an I told you so.

Donkey Kong screen


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