Day 22 – 30 Day Movie Challenge

Your Favorite Documentary

It’s the mark of a great documentary that it can make you care about something you had no interest in otherwise. That is the reason I loved this documentary, because the fight between Billy Mitchell the jerk and underdog Steve Wiebe is something utterly captivating, and a story that’s continued even though the movie came out in 2007. That’s right, the two are still competing, and the saga continues. Sure, it might not seem like a big deal to us, but to these guys, it’s everything.

The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters begins by tracing the history of competitive video gaming, which the film argues began in 1982 when Mitchell racked up the world record score on Donkey Kong (over 800,000 points). Mitchell’s record stood, undisturbed, until 2005. That’s when Steve Wiebe, who had recently been laid off, decided to accept the challenge to compete with Mitchell’s high score. The most amazing part of the film is the fact that Wiebe’s wife and kids let him engage in what is a very trivial competition.

You couldn’t find two more diametrically opposed rivals if he tried. Mitchell, currently a restauranteur who still wears his hair and dresses like it’s the 1980s, is a major jerk of a human being. The fact that he has such a huge ego about being the biggest fish in the puddle of competitive classic videogaming is laughable. But he is one of the best villains I have seen on the screen in a long time. Wiebe, on the other hand, is a guy you can’t help but pull for. We cheer when he bests Mitchell’s score by over 200,000. Then we feel his setbacks when the score is invalidated.

It is a real improbable success. It’s a documentary, about Donkey Kong of all things, that is as compelling and involving as any summer blockbuster. I can’t recommend it highly enough. A documentary that moves you is rare enough, but one that makes you stand up and cheer is truly unique. It is one of the best documentaries movies I’ve ever seen. Don’t take my word for it, check it out.

There were several others in the running especially Man On Wire and The Thin Blue Line, but as far as entertainment value, I couldn’t ask for a better film. What about you? Do you have a favorite documentary? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Day 22 – 30 Day Movie Challenge”

  1. Completely agree, it really was a great documentary which I recently also mentioned during my documentary week. Recently saw this show called 50 documentaries to see before you die and Morgan Spurlock actually visited Billy Mitchell who is now running an arcade. He claims to not have watched the documentary. It was a fun bit well worth checking out if you can!

    Found a bit of it here:

  2. That is an awesome interview. I need to watch that show. I didn’t want to say it in the review, but Billy Mitchell looks like such a douchebag. He just seems so smug and self-appreciating. I hope I never look like that to people because I’m often snobbish about movies.

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