Ronnie Scheib and Matt Zoller
Ronnie Scheib of Variety labels The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters as a manipulative but “wildly entertaining” documentary determined to skew the audience’s opinion to the underdog versus the residing champ. Scheib does comment that in all the seriousness and political intrigue the document contains moments of ludicrousness that remind the audience the quirks of reality. For instance, Scheib describes when, “…as the moment Wiebe, on the brink of breaking the world record, is loudly summoned by his little boy to help him wipe his rear end.” I am convinced, though, by Scheib’s review of the documentary in that the film mostly acts a propaganda vehicle for the underdog since the review did mention all the behind-the-scenes antics produced by the sinister Billy Mitchell, like sending in men to examine Steve’s arcade machine and sending a lady carrying Billy’s new, unseen Donkey Kong high score.
Matt Zoller Seitz of The New York Times favorably reviews The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, emphasizing the arcade game’s addictiveness but criticizes the film’s standard documentary structure of building up the hero versus villain notion. Seitz expounds on the idea the film abides to an uninspired documentary model but adds, “…the movie’s Rocky formula proves irresistible anyway….” The review does convince me into thinking The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters stands as a by-the-numbers documentary tale but for good reason; the documentary model is standard because it works with audiences.