The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

  • Review Date: September 18, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Amusing documentary duel at the video arcade.
  • Review Date: September 18, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

Age(i)

2
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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Viewers get to pick sides between the arrogant reigning Donkey Kong champion and a nice-guy family man, dogged by bad luck, who seems to need the affirmation and approval of his peers badly. There are a few female players glimpsed, but women are mostly supportive (maybe slightly exasperated) spouses.

Violence

None, except quick flashes of violent video games over the end credits.

Sex

A sexy still photo of a nude couple (covering up each other's private parts, barely), is shown, illustrating the sordid past of a video gamer.

Language

"Bastard" and "kick that guy's ass" used, but the point is made that profanity is actually frowned upon in this milieu.

Consumerism

Not only are video games, video game parlors, and shop franchises ubiquitous, we also see plenty of the chicken hot sauce sold by one of the contenders in his day job.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Gaming is verbally compared to drug addiction, and some interviewees smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is not a King Kong related movie in any form, but a rollicking documentary about extreme video gaming. The PG-13 rating from the MPAA is unwarranted, even though there are a few swear words and brief glimpses of sexy still pictures.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

This entertaining documentary follows the weird twists and turns in a grudge match between two top Donkey Kong aces. One is Billy Mitchell, the "villain" here with long, slicked-back hair, snazzy clothes, and high-profile chicken BBQ sauce and restaurant. Not as famous as Billy is the unassertive, usually unsuccessful Steve Wiebe, quietly beating Mitchell's 874,000 record score. His achievement makes him a hero and celebrity even outside of the gamer world. But poor Steve can't get a break. Close scrutiny into his game console casts a shadow on his Donkey Kong score, raising the possibility Steve was unwittingly set up by Mitchell's old foes as a false champion. Steve and his family journey to a monitored tournament to prove he really can play the game that well, in front of witnesses.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS is a funny documentary whether you are wild about vintage video games like Donkey Kong or not. Actually it's funnier if you don't care. Maybe "alarming" is more like it. Parents who think their kids spend too much time with the xBox or Playstation might find this film semi-reassuring, in that it shows men (and some women) who have devoted their lives to video gaming and made something serious out of it. Perhaps even too serious.

The movie doesn't go out of its way to mock these game fanatics, but still, you occasionally find yourself giggling. It's just Donkey Kong! Get a life! Still, the film raises a question if these men and their mortal combat is any less legitimate than the NBA, NHL, or NFL pro heroes who make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Maybe Shaq, Lebron, Barry Bonds, etc., could also lighten up and remember that it's just for fun, too.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various arcade champions, especially the flashy Billy Mitchell and his soft-spoken underdog rival Steve Wiebe. Which one do you root for? Do you think they're as legitimate as athletes in professional sports? Should video games (whether they're the vintage Space Invaders or the latest Halo) be this important in peoples' lives? How important are video games to your kids?see this together for some bonding.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 14, 2007
DVD release date:January 29, 2008
Cast:Billy Mitchell, Steve Wiebe, Walter Day
Director:Seth Gordon
Studio:Picturehouse
Genre:Documentary
Run time:79 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:one sexual reference

This review of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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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Adult Written byjoeysmom411 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Life Lesson to be Learned...

I sat down to watch King of Kong with my two children, ages 11 and 13, only having watched the trailer online. Normally I would never do that, but I figured it was a documentary, so how bad could it be? My son is a video game nut, so I knew he would be intrigued by it, and I know what Donkey Kong is, so I'd be OK, but I wasn't sure about my daughter, age 11. I did have to explain some things to her, not about the gaming, but about the way the adults were acting. My 11 year old daughter was the first one to point out that the adults were acting like they were still in middle school! I have to agree. The contestants in the tournaments were catty, back-biting, jeaslous, and egotistical. I thought the important lesson for her was, some people never outgrow this, and she needs to be prepared for it. Behavior like this occurs in all kinds of jobs, whether you're a secretary in an office, or a judge in a courthouse. The best remark she had was, "But they are grown ups, why are they acting like that? It's a video came, for crying out loud!!!" The film itself was brilliant in showing just exactly that point. The grand poo-bah of Donkey Kong was basking in the glow of something he accomplished more than twenty years ago. He still had the same hair cut! The challenger was in the here and now. He was willing to sacrifice whatever it took to beat the poo-bah, and he did it. David versus Goliath. Classic tale, same ending. Life lesson learned.
Parent Written byMixyplixl January 3, 2015
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Fun and compelling true story about gaming, competition and life!

I had thoroughly enjoyed this film some years back and suddenly realized it was perfect to show my 9-year-old who is both obsessed with video games and pinball, as well as really into stories about competition like Akela and the Bee. The story takes an inside look into Donkey Kong competition world (circa 2004), at which time a new upstart, Steve Wiebe, is about to shake things up, and becomes champion against all odds. The thing is, he is going against the current, arrogant champion, Billy Mitchell who has been resting on his laurels for 20 years, and the video game establishment supports Billy at Steve's expense through most of the film. By being sincere and persistent, Steve is able both to create a new record, and to win over those who had been against him, through the sheer power of persistence and by being a nice guy, no matter what. Great storytelling that brings both laughter and tears (who would have thought, from a movie about video games?) Sometimes it is easy to forget this is a documentary, as the characters could have been out of "central casting," and it is completely engaging. You should know that the PG-13 rating is ridiculous, and is only based on some cussing and a few shots of racy (but tame) photos.
What other families should know
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Great role models

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