You might be embarrassed or feel like Beavis & Butthead, for the fact that you giggled at the title being called Balls of Fury, or that the movie poster tag line is “A big comedy with tiny balls.”
It’s a small comedy, with lots and lots of small laughs. That makes it an hour and a half you really enjoy.
Written by a couple of guys from the hysterical Reno 911 – Robert Ben Garant and Tom Lennon (he’s also East German Ping-Pong champ Karl Wolfschtagg) – this movie has some fast paced laughs, and fast paced Ping-Pong. It almost makes me wonder if they saw how easy it was in Forrest Gump to show Ping-Pong scenes that look realistic, and the sport of table tennis works a lot better for a comedy sports film than the unfunny Blades of Glory. This movie is like Blades of Glory meets Enter the Dragon (which is probably how they pitched it to the suits).
The comedy makes the smart move of playing it straight, which always makes the jokes a lot funnier.
The cast has some interesting people: Aisha Tyler (Talk Soup), David Koechner, Robert Patrick, George Lopez, James Hong, Patton Oswalt (who was in a few Reno episodes), as well as Comic Con regular Terry Crews. There’s usually not a big crowd at his table at the Con. Next year I’m going to tell him how fun this movie was.
This will be the break-out role for Dan Fogler, the fat Ping-Pong whiz the sports shaggy curly hair, sideburns, and a Def Leppard shirt. He’s as good as Jack Black, Belushi, Farley, or any of the big comedic guys. Heck, he’s got one thing those other guys don’t. He won a Tony (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which I was lucky enough to catch on Broadway, since my friend had a small role).
Rancho Santa Fe resident, announcer Jim Lampley, has a small part.
And how can you not like a movie of this nature that gets Christopher Walken to star? He gives a whole new meaning to “sudden death.”
Everybody thinks it’s hysterical when Rip Torn throws bricks at the team to make them better in Dodgeball. Well, that has some competition. Hong is a restaurateur and Ping-Pong guru who trains Fogler rigorously. At one point he looks him in a refrigerator with a swarm of bees and a fly swatter. Wax on/wax off, my ass!
Lopez plays an FBI agent who wants to bust the illegal, underground world of Ping-Pong (just typing that sentence made me laugh).
How can we not love hearing Walken tell stories about the various Ping-Pong greats, or yell in Chinese? And his outfits are like Liberace impersonating Fu Manchu.
The characters are all bizarre and fun, and it makes this a wacky comedy that’s enjoyable. I’m guessing it’s going to be crucified by the critics. Yet, as I sit here writing this, I can think of 15 times I laughed out loud. The biggest being the scene when Fogler finds out there’s a stable of lovers that will give the players massages. He’s thrilled, until he finds out they’re all gay men. The scene starts out the way you’d expect, and I thought it would be one of the few comedy clichés (another that comes to mind is when Fogler had to hide the wires for going undercover). Yet after the door closes and Fogler with the men, he ends up coming out later all happy, telling Aisha Tyler “All we did was play Boggle.”
If you don’t laugh at a line like that, I’m not sure what comedy would work for you.
The arm wrestlers have that Sylvester Stallone movie…Ping-Pong players now have this.
I’m giving it a B.