Until recently, I hadn't heard of this film. It was only after watching the dire 'Four Christmases', also by director Seth Gordon (see separate review), that I learnt of its existence.
I grew up in the 1980s, so this film instantly appealed to me. I had the 'posh boys' computer, BBC B. In those days, home computers got away with producing direct clones of arcade games (in this case, it was called 'Killer Gorilla'), but I still feel affinity with those original arcade classics.
Anyway, I immediately snapped this DVD up when I found out about it. And I wasn't disappointed.
I'm not always a fan of docu-films, finding they're only as good (or as interesting) as the people they're based around - but this one has great source material, and as a result is extremely watchable.
The sort of subject and tone of the film reminded be a great deal of Louis Theroux's TV documentaries (particularly his earlier ones), and if you like his programmes then I would recommend this title.
The basic set-up is that, since 1982, the world high-score for Donkey Kong has been held by one Billy Mitchell. Yes, "who?", you may well ask! But that doesn't stop him from living off of his 'fame', as if he's some world-class celebrity, all these years later - even though you could walk past him in the street and not have a clue who he is!
That is, until Steve Wiebe appears on the scene. He has a Donkey Kong cabinet in his garage, and after hours of playing, sets what appears to be a new world high-score (videotaped, as all entries must be, unless performed "live", i.e. in front of an audience). There is much speculation as to whether the score is genuine or not (to the extent that his cabinet it taken apart and examined to make sure it hasn't been doctored), and it insisted that he attend the 'Funspot Arcade', a classic gaming museum in New Hampshire, to prove his score in person.
Wiebe comes across as an honest, well-meaning character, but Mitchell is presented as extremely arrogant and deceptive, and very bitter that someone dare challenge his title. However, after years of insisting that people achieve their high-scores "live", Mitchell refuses to play Wiebe, and treats him like dirt, mostly blanking and avoiding him. (Naturally, Mitchell has since claimed that he was more courteous to Wiebe than appears on film).
You don't have to be a particular gaming fanatic to like this title (although is extra fun to be had if you are); just watching these eccentric (and in some cases obsessed) individuals and their hobby is entertaining enough. The only gripe that I would mention, is that (whereas some films drag on) I did find it slightly short at 80 minutes, and felt that an extra 10 minutes or so could have been used to give more background in a few areas.
If I paid more for this DVD, it would probably be knocked down to a four star rating by me, but for less than four pound, you can't go wrong. If you like docu-films - and particularly if you are a vintage gaming fan - then I recommend this title.