Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Following in the tradition of competitive-subculture documentaries like Word Wars and Spellbound, this cult favorite finds plenty of weird, interesting characters as it follows the world champions of Donkey Kong in their struggle to top each other. The difference is that Scrabble tournaments and spelling bees have audiences; nobody seems interested in what these men accomplish besides the handful of other arcade high-score enthusiasts around them. It's a lonely, unhealthy pursuit, and the most reward any of them get out of it is 15 minutes of fame in a documentary that makes them look weird. Is it any surprise that the community rallies around their established champion? They're such a tiny subculture that they can't bear the disruption that a fresh outsider might bring. Unsurprisingly, King of Kong plays loose with the facts in order to tell its story, but it carries a number of potent messages about unfair competition and unhealthy obsessions without spelling any of them out, and it has a number of funny sequences. You don't have to be a fan of classic video games to enjoy this movie, but it does help to have been on the outside of a clique, looking in.

− March 24, 2008 • more by Scottlog in or create an account to reply

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