The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

king of kong a fistful of quarters movie poster documentary
8.5 Overall Score

Fun video game documentary

Manipulation of events

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The King of Kong:  A Fistful of Quarters

Studio:  Picturehouse

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  August 17, 2007

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

king of kong documentary steve wiebe donkey kong

The underdog you love: Steve Wiebe!

Steve Wiebe, a high school algebra teacher at Finn Hill Junior High in Kirkland, Washington has a dream…to be the best Donkey Kong player ever!  There is only one person standing in his way and that is the leading Donkey Kong player Billy Mitchell…and Billy is not going down without a fight!!!

Directed by Seth Gordon, The King of Kong:  A Fistful of Quarters is a video-game documentary about two players goal to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for Donkey Kong high-score.  The movie was released high critical acclaim and made many critics “Best Of” lists for the year.

As a gamer growing up, high scores mattered.  It was not about finishing a game and it was not about getting as many achievements as possible…it was about how long you could last and how high you could boost the score.  King of Kong celebrates this time of arcades by visiting people who are the best players and letting you get caught up in the fun!

king of kong documentary doris self qbert champion

I’d watch a whole movie about Doris…

This is an entertaining documentary although you have to watch it and wonder how much is exaggerated and embellished.  The movie portrays Wiebe as a family man, but a failed competitor, and Billy Mitchell pretty much as a complete ass.  It would be hard to say it is all editing since most of the words coming out of Mitchell’s mouth seem to support that he is an ass, and he even adds actions to his words.  Maybe the film makers told Mitchell to play up the villain role, but he’s so good at it.  I’m thinking it is just him.

Some of the things are manufactured.  Like in many documentaries, the “facts” can be distorted for drama.  There was a third person competing for the record who is never mentioned, and a couple of the high score attempts were rejected (but not seen on camera).  These can be forgiven because it is fun just to take the ride.

king of kong documentary billy mitchell best mullet

Love my mullet…fear my mullet!

Part of the fun of the movie is to watch how Billy (the Sauce King) manipulates everyone and watching his little followers try to kowtow to him.  The 80 year old Q*Bert expert Doris Self is a character in herself and I would not have minded a whole documentary about her (RIP).  Billy is a great villain, even if he doesn’t mean to be and it is worth watching him and his glorious mullet.

As a gamer, it is also fun to revisit all the games they are playing…it makes my mouth water to see some of the arcades they visit in the film, and it makes you wish you had buckets of quarters to join in…in a world of perfect graphics, 8-Bit glory almost takes on an artistic look.

The King of Kong is what gamers need to show their family and friends when they say “It’s just a game”…Steve Weibe would disagree.  There has been talk of a motion picture based on the competition or a sequel to the film to show how the two continue to battle each other and how being in a successful picture changed things for them (Wiebe has even appeared in Four Christmases and Horrible Bosses) and the gaming world.  I would love to revisit the “characters” of the King of Kong…the more you see them, the more you will love/hate them!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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