The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

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This transfixing and often laugh-out-loud doc is a straightforward tale of good versus evil set in the pitiless and po-faced world of retro arcade gaming. Steve Wiebe is an affable out-of-town family man whose life so far has been strewn with disappointment and loss. He decides to try to beat the highest-ever score for the classic game ‘Donkey Kong’, a record set by Machiavellian hot sauce salesman, Billy Mitchell in 1982.

Mitchell, with his stubbly beard, mullet haircut and dazzling array of patriotic neckties is a documentary supervillain up there with George W. Bush in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’. He flaunts a colossal ego as he delivers a torrent of highly quotable faux pas (‘No matter what I say, it draws controversy. It’s sort of like the abortion issue.’). You could hardly call it a paragon of impartial filmmaking, but this is still a compelling and immersive glance into the nature of competitiveness and the corrupting aspects of fame.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday June 6 2008
Duration: 79 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Seth Gordon

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:17
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

So the hipster guy is the super villain like George Bush? And the lame family guy is the good guy? I think you got the roles reversed there mate.


The film was a fraud in many ways. Mitchell's record had been broken by another guy in 2001. Weibe was the recognized champion for several years. Agree the whole lot of them are quite sad.


lovely film and the triviality of the pursuit has got nothing to do with anything. most of what we call games are deeply trivial. it's the way personality is revealed through these trivial pursuits that is instructive and deep.


"a low scoring portrait of human vanity" about a gutwrenching realistic portrait of human that transcends generations and brings nerds, jocks, push-overs, and buttheads together.... your credibility has been flushed down the perverbial 'Bubbles' drain.


I am convinced that the only reason you panned this movie was to increase the number of hits your page gets. Are you getting kickbacks from the advertising department? Kudos to you, it worked. I would have never heard of this "publication" without your ridiculous review of this movie on I suggest you re watch this movie. If you happen to stick by your initial review, then well, you sir are a retard.

Leona Luk

This is a film about people who are stuck in 1982 I think. Billy Mitchell has held the world record Donkey Kong score since 1982 when record keeping began and he has barely changed his hairdo since then. Perhaps that was hot in '82, but a dude in his 40s can't quite rock that hairdo. Right back to the documentary - mostly I was struck by how pathetic the people in this film are. Steve Wiebe, trying to overtake Mitchell's record, won't stop playing long enough to wipe his own kid's poo covered butt, and he's told outright by his daughter that he's ruining his life to get this record. There's Micthell, who besides a bad hairdo and a wife with a really bad boob job, won't show up in person to defend his title. There are the guys who are Mitchell's geeky goon squad, determined to prove anyone besting Mitchell is a cheat of some kind, and there's Mr Awesome who really has to be seen to be believed. This film took a while to bring me into this geek heaven because it was all so foreign to me - in this regard, the film did not do a good job introducing those of us who have not spent time in an arcade to those who virtually live there. By the time I was drawn in, it was the pathetic quality of these lives which kept me watching, and that's not necessarily a good thing. It's sort of like a bad car crash that you don't want to watch but keep looking at - the major difference is that an ambulance will take the injured to be helped and no one is coming to rescue the poor souls in this documentary.


I'm not sure what movie you saw, but it wasn't "King of Kong"! All you have to do to prove that you have any credibility at all, is make a movie yourself. As it is, your review of the movie is getting "panned" while the movie itself is getting stellar reviews.

Huckleberry Frontal

HaHaHa Ha Ha!!! This so-called movie critic "Stephen Garrett" MUST be on either Silly Bitchell's (a.k.a Billy Mitchell) or Brian Kuh's payroll or something?!?! THE ONLY REASON that this film got a 98% freshness rating (as opposed to 100%, which is what it rightly deserves) is because of this Mr. Foolio Disgracias "film critic" extremely LOUSY review..."what a Maroon" (as Bugs would say). I don't often get angry at film critics...I simply don't care what they say...unless I've watched a thoroughly enjoyable movie that's actually worth my ten F***ing dollars! YOU REALL PISS ME OFF, YOU SILLY FARRETT!!! (or was that Garrett?).

Mister X

Poor Stephen Garret was unable to understand anything... And so, he was kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to save the President?

ian maclellan

This was an amazing movie, the characters could not be any more rich. I don't see how you were not entertained or even brought to the edge of tears with how heartbreaking this movie was. You obviously did not watch this movie or were distracted by something like your new iphone the whole time, managing to miss one of the best movies of the year,


Haha. I know it's your opinion, but what is your idea of a good movie? Shrek 3? You must have some weird taste in movies. Because this movie, is a great movie. It's funny, and I cannot wait for the fictional remake.


You're a funny little movie critic Mr. Garrett. Your seemingly incomplete review is fuzzy and nearly indicates that you have not viewed the same incredible film that the rest of us did. This movie superbly stands on its own strengths -- it’s not supposed to be “Chasing Ghosts". Perhaps you are a Billy butt-kisser...I would rather be a Steve butt-wiper! That's obviously saying something about my respect for the humble guy who wants to play fair.

Ben Coe

I myself can't imagine an objective more trivial than that which drives a pretentious New York movie critic.


"Presenting these lives as a parable about the merits of good sportsmanship is even more of a stretch." Did you even watch the movie? How could you possibly think that this statement is true?


It's time to quit your job as a film critic. The trivial nature of their goal and the intensity with which they pursue it is exactly what makes this movie so great. You have missed the point of this film completely. I suggest your boss re-check your credentials before allowing you to review anything else.


Wait a minute, “Stephen�, if that is your real name. Your review sounds like it was written by Billy Mitchell himself. Describing this utterly engrossing film as “moderately entertaining� would be like calling the Bible fairly popular among religious types. The character arch-types that play out are classic. The quotes throughout are unforgettable. The twist and turns of the seemingly in-coincidental plot is amazingly fascinating. But you continue to say that “their present-day core objective is so deeply trivial, and yet their hunger for recognition is so desperate�, and you’d be absolutely right. My present-day trivial objective is in-proportionate to my desperate hunger for recognition.... yours too, and probably 90% of the entire world are stuck in these worlds that, in the long run, are pointless and trivial yet we still strive away our hardest to achieve to become masters of these skin-deep realities. That is life. That is humanity. And that is exactly what makes this documentary worth watching, and even more, captivating.


Wow, you simply could not be more wrong. This is probably one of the funniest films I have seen in years, certainly more entertaining than 99.9% of documentaries. By focusing on something most people consider deeply trival, KING OF KONG shows you the lengths that people will go to in order to have a 'world record", even if that record is in Pac Man or Donkey Kong. These guys go at it as if they were trying to get a gold medal and their focus is absolutely affecting and kind of hilarious. This is ultimately a very human comedy, pitting a lovable underdog (possibly THE most lovable underdog) against a total dinosaur from 1984 and it has funny in spades.