Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2007. LargeLab. Cinematography by Seth Gordon. Produced by Ed Cunningham. Music by Craig Richey. Production Design by Ben Fry. Film Editing by Seth Gordon. Online Film Critics Awards 2007.
Among the many obscurely interesting facts in the western world is the fact that in 1982, Billy Mitchell took the prize for the highest-ever recorded score in the arcade game of Donkey Kong and became a celebrity in the gaming world. Years later he’s a happily married man who owns a successful chicken-sauce business and continues to be the mascot for Twin Galaxies, the organization run by Walter Day that holds yearly tournaments of classic arcade games (i.e. Pac-Man, Frogger, etc.) and is the central hub of video game statistics. Enter Steve Wiebe, a recently laid-off family man who decides to use his free time racking up points in Donkey Kong and beat the world record. He does this, but the validity of his score is contested and begins a long journey that sees our grassroots hero going up against the corporation-like ego of Mitchell in pursuit of a singular version of the American Dream. The effect of this film is that of the most powerful dramas you’ve ever seen; it won’t take long before this entertaining tumble down the rabbit hole has you completely glued to the screen begging for the sympathetic hero to keep avoiding killer barrels in an effort to get the world’s top score. Expertly directed, the film has no slack and includes only the right amount of background information in between the scenes of powerful immediacy.