Taking a cue more from Stephen Ciao’s “Shaolin Soccer” than any of the comedy sports films of the last few years, all seemingly starring Wil Ferrell, “Balls of Fury” is a trifle but a silly delight none the less. And how could it not be silly as it delves into the underground world of ping-pong. It’s written by a couple of those guys from the hilarious “Reno 911” and directed and starring one and the other as well. Part of me wants to say you don’t really need to see it, but the other part had enough fun that thinks it wouldn’t not be bad if you did.
Here’s a list of things I enjoyed:
– Christopher Walken playing more zany than straight. One of the funniest scenes didn’t make the cut but is showcased in the credit sequence.
– James Hong, who is very funny as the blind instructor and who I’ve enjoyed since growing up on “Big Trouble in Little China”.
– Maggie Q, who is stunning and quite funny herself.
– Dan Fogler – Some say a Jack Black-a-like. I say he’s got some chops. I think he won some Tonys too!
– The ping-pong battles.
– The direction by Ben Garant. He knows how to use the camera to tell a joke. I always appreciate that.
– The jokes are quirky and given with such joy for comedy and the delivery such care for the material it’s hard not to smile at even the ones that misfire.
And some things they missed on.
– I think Lt. Dangle is one of the finest creations on television right now, but Thomas Lennon missed the boat with his characterization of Karl Wolfschtagg, the German ping pong champion. It’s more strange than funny. In a comedy like this I would think that he’s learned by now the more grounded the characters are in reality the funnier the comedy becomes. Karl feels like someone trying too hard to be out there in order to be perceived as funny.
– I’m just not a big George Lopez fan. He doesn’t get in the way, but he doesn’t add much of anything.
– And even at it’s short run time it over stays it’s welcome by about 5 minutes. There doesn’t need to be a wrap up. You really don’t care about the characters. You enjoy them, you laugh often and when the story is done they should disappear. But the movie ends on a down note, though I should say it attempted for the opposite. Something a comedy should never do.
– I didn’t feel like it always embraced it’s absurdity enough. It probably could have gone further in it’s combining of the Hong Kong action genre and the sports genre as “Shaolin Soccer” did.
If you run across it or have nothing better to do it’s not a waste of time, but it will help you waste some.