Balls of Fury
2007, PG-13, 90 min. Directed by Ben Garant. Starring Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q, Thomas Lennon, Jason Scott Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Hong, Aisha Tyler.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 31, 2007
Possibly the greatest comic riff on Enter the Dragon ever filmed (okay, the only comic riff on Enter the Dragon ever filmed), this pingpong-themed comedy is still just barely goofy enough to sustain its 90-minute running time. The fact that it's tolerable at all owes much to the amiable nerd panache of chunky lead Fogler (School for Scoundrels). As the former pingpong prodigy Randy Daytona, he's such a sweet-natured slacker that you can't help but root for him when he gets a chance to beat down some personal demons by going ball-to-ball with childhood nemesis Karl Wolfschtagg (Lennon, wielding a Werner Klemperer accent as though it were a clever comic gambit, which it is). Nobody does Christopher Walken like Christopher Walken (not even Walken), and as the evil pingpong fanatic Feng, he hams his way through the second half of the film with all the comic gusto of, um, Christopher Walken in a kimono. Which is cool and momentarily funny but hardly enough to keep an entire movie afloat. Much like his SNL character the Continental, Walken is best taken in small doses, but here he's untethered and allowed to overwhelm an already by-the-numbers comedy script (co-written by Garant and Lennon, both of Reno 911!). The always reliable Hong is on board as the blind pingpong sensei Master Wong, but even Big Trouble in Little China's former Lo Pan can't summon up enough yuks to make Balls of Fury anything more than a mildly entertaining reworking of the Farrelly Brothers' superior microsport parody, Kingpin.