Friday, August 24, 2007

King of Kong

There are some documentaries that try to create story and character arcs through cheap, artificial means like reenactments and heavy-handed narration. Or, in the case of Michael Moore, just staging their own events and then pointing the camera at them, so the director is effectively the star of his own documentary.

Then there are documentaries like King of Kong, where all they have to do is point the camera at someone like Billy Mitchell or Steve Wiebe and let them define themselves in every word they say. It's terrific. I feel like I know exactly what all these guys are like. And although many of them would probably be pretty annoying in person, I happen to have a lot of experience with their brand of nerdy obsession. I was never that into Donkey Kong, but I certainly put in my share of hours.

The most fascinating character is Billy Mitchell, he of the huge ego based on accomplishments 25 years old. I understand he objects to his portrayal, and I can understand why: every single thing he says or does is hilariously pompous, to the point where the movie gets a huge laugh just showing him blow-drying his hair.

I should admit that I have a bias in favor of the kind of crazy obsessive behavior in thie movie. When the Twin Galaxies staff is talking about how important it is to correctly grade and rate video game performances, I'm nodding right along with them. I mean, I'm laughing at the same time, but . . . accuracy is important! It is!

I would like to add that Steve Wiebe's daughter is clearly the smartest person in the movie. Also, it's terrific and everyone should see it.

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