The Movie Buffer

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Balls of Fury


The spoilers within are for your self-defense only


Recently, a rash of atypical sport movies have been popping up with varied success, Dodgeball was both pretty funny and box office success and Kickin’ It Old Skool was neither. If a sport like figure skating can inspire a comedy, ping pong can surely do the same.

Balls of Fury doesn’t have the star power of a movie like Dogeball or Blades of Glory so it rolls out a few tried and true dick/fart jokes and cameo after cameo to stumble along. There is a laundry list of character actors in this picture: Christopher Walken, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, Jason Scott Lee, Aisha Tyler and many more. If only they had made with The Funny, this movie could have really improved.

Director Ben Garant, who directed Reno 911!: Miami, has several off the cuff comedies under his belt and this film seems to be his bid for a more mainstream audience. His strong point from his previous films is that he let the actors really take on the characters and move them in different directions. In this film, on the contrary, it feels like he reigned in many of the actors who would have been better off ad-libbing. This could have been one of those R-rated comedies that seem to do so well these days but they went the other way and toned everything way down.

Dan Fogler stars as the unambitious, former child ping pong Olympian, Randy Daytona, who is recruited by the FBI to enter the table tennis equivalent of Mortal Kombat hosted by Mr. Feng, played by Christopher Walken. Being 19 years removed from tournament play, Agent Rodriguez, played by George Lopez, shakes the rust off Randy’s game by enrolling him in Master Wong’s ping pong academy. A few “Wax on, Wax off” jokes later he’s ready to go.

All the important actors’ performances, like Fogler’s and Walken’s are hit or miss and the supporting cast isn’t much better. There were a ton of jokes that were delivered really awkwardly and it makes me wonder if the writing was weak or the actors just phoned in their performances. At least Fogler really made a strong effort to be funny and tried to sell the weak punch lines.

Balls of Fury does have a few laughs though at times you can tell that the actors wanted to make more satirical or blue jokes but were hamstrung because the director wanted a PG rating. With the wealth of comedies that are family friendly and still pretty funny, this one is at the middle of the pack. If you have a craving for Walken or you have a passion for table tennis, this may be the film for you but the humor wears thin quickly.

It earns a 5/10 or a two out of five star rating.


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