Balls of Fury

 
(i)

 

Slapstick ping-pong comedy has very slight bounce.
  • Review Date: December 17, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters, including Dayton's father, bet on ping-pong; Wong berates Daytona constantly; concubines offer themselves up for sex. Some jokes are based on Asian stereotypes; others are homophobic. But the main character, Randy, is a soft-hearted, genuine guy.

Violence

Includes gunplay, electrocution, murder by poison dart, and even a bomb going off. But it's largely played for laughs, and viewers don't see blood.

Sex

A couple kisses passionately, and she wraps her legs around him; in the scene in which male concubines are presented, one insists on spending the night; sounds of a couple having sex in another room. References to various characters' sexual preferences, though nothing really explicit is said. Plenty of scantily clad women. Men grope Maggie at the ping-pong training center, though she's able to fend them off with martial arts.

Language

Fairly mild: "ass," "bull-poop," "bitch," "hell," "snot," etc.

Consumerism

ESPN clips; mentions of the Olympics; references to Def Leppard and the band's hit songs.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking and smoking in gambling dens and bars.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this vapid slapstick comedy from the creators of Reno 911! will appeal to tweens and teens, its humor is tinged with a grim undercurrent: The main character is avenging his father's death at the hands of a murderous -- if seemingly ridiculous -- letch. There are also Chinese stereotypes (one character carries a lucky cricket and dispenses with enemies using chopsticks) and a fair bit of violence, mostly cartoonish and without blood. The movie clearly has its tongue firmly in cheek, which takes the edge off the crudest humor, but it's still sex-and-body-part based.

What's the story?

In BALLS OF FURY , venerable actor Christopher Walken plays Feng, a millionaire ping-pong fanatic who gathers the world's best players in an ultimate death match -- literally -- just so he can watch them do what they do best. He's also a big-shot arms dealer, which may be why the feds -- headed by Agent Ernie Rodriquez (George Lopez) -- are after him. Enter Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler), a has-been ping-pong prodigy who once nearly medaled at the Olympics -- he's "the golden boy who couldn't even bronze" -- but lost to an outrageously aggressive German athlete, Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon). The defeat left Randy's father, a gambler who owed money to Feng, dead by the arms dealer's hand. But instead of avenging his dad's death, Randy grows up to become a loser who does ping-pong tricks at dive bars where no one cares, or even knows, that they're in the presence of an athlete. Randy finally gets his chance to face down Feng when Rodriguez recruits him for the FBI's mission. But the former star is woefully out of practice, so he must first apprentice with Wong (James Hong), a blind Chinese restaurant owner who speaks in nonsensical clichés, and his alluring-but-tough niece, Maggie (Maggie Q) -- who both have major axes to grind with Feng, too.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Let's be clear: BALLS OF FURY is no Blades of Glory. Nor is it a Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, or any of Judd Apatow's super-silly-yet-brilliant comedies -- though it clearly aspires to join those ranks.

Still, it's so good-naturedly inane that it manages not to offend. In fact, it may even make you laugh (a little). Credit for that first goes to Christopher Walken, who commits to the insanity with such relish that you can't help but let your guard down.

Walken's a delight, but it's Fogler who makes this whole enterprise somewhat worthwhile. He's boorish but likable, a Jack Black in the making. He floats through the absurdity with ease, able to battle an 8-year-old ping-pong master dubbed "the Dragon" without being over-the-top, even though the material is. (The movie was written by Reno 911! veterans Lennon and director Ben Garant, who, having found a way to make ping-pong seem as thrilling as it can be, should work for ESPN.)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of underdog stories. Why are films that depict a character's triumphant rise so compelling? In real life, do you think people are more interested in stories like that or in watching heroes crash and burn (the way young Randy fails at the Olympics)? What role does the media play in that process? Also, how does seeing sports on TV affect your perception of them? Do televised events overemphasize the drama, or are they merely mirroring what actually exist? Do you think ping-pong could be that hyper-competitive? What other sports looks calm when in fact they aren't?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 29, 2007
DVD release date:December 18, 2007
Cast:Christopher Walken, Dan Fogler, George Lopez
Director:Robert Ben Garant
Studio:Rogue Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:crude and sex-related humor, and for language.

This review of Balls of Fury was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
 

Something I wouldn't see again

There were scenes that I didn't understand, and the dart shooter wasn't my favorite picture. I thought it wasn't a very appropriate movie, and not something I'd recommend to a person my age.
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008
 

Super Funny

This movie is super funny. See it soon.
Kid, 10 years old July 15, 2012
 

funny movie

hey its funny and its fine for kids!! the innuendo will go right over their heads!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex

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