King of Kong – A fistful of quarters

King of Kong – A fistful of quarters

Watched this movie last night at the Laurelhurst. It’s about the race to the highest score for the classic arcade game Donkey Kong by Steve Wiebe (a laid-off Boeing employee, now HS science teacher in Bellvue, WA) and Billy Mitchell (a hot-sauce vendor with a long history of classic arcade game record scores). This really is a great movie to watch since it also includes commentary and a walk through the contests/rivalries between Mitchell and Wiebe.

However, it is also very painful to watch. I can only liken it to the ‘Best in Show’ movie about the crazy dog show people. Wiebe comes off as an average guy trying to become great in something. Billy comes off as one of the most arrogant, self-delusional, and (in my unprofessional opinion) emotionally/behaviorally manipulative guys you’d ever hope not to meet. Yet it’s the whole cast of other professional game players and the sadly myopic interactions they have with each other that’s even more painful. The Filthy Critic captures the feel of this movie almost perfectly. The best quote of movie that sums up a lot of what’s going on: Steve Wiebe is driving to a contest to play Kong, and his 10-ish year old daughter in a fit of insight says,

Daughter: “I didn’t know that book (Guinness Book of World Records) was that important”
Steve: “Well, yeah, it’s important for some folks”
Daughter: “I think a lot of people probably ruin their lives trying to get into that book”

Brilliant. A 10-year old girl sees what all these guys in the 30’s and 40’s did not.

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