Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Balls of Fury

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Directed by Ben Garant. Written by Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant. Starring Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q, Aisha Tyler, James Hong and Robert Patrick.

It's time someone had a talk with Christopher Walken. Long gone are the days when he was the King of Creepy, a quixotic and captivating dramatic actor whose white-hot intensity burned the screen in such pictures as, say, The Deer Hunter. Not that Balls of Fury could be confused with Michael Cimino's 1978 masterpiece, except that, in its own small way, it's nearly as harrowing, grueling and dehumanizing as a VC prison camp.

Where to start?

Each joke is worse than the last, so dismal and hackneyed that we begin to dread each coming crow like the clicking of a barrel in a game of Russian roulette. The torture never ends, from dumb racist jokes to dumb sight gags, to desperate, wheezing attempts to squeeze life out of the dying cow of ironic underdog sports spoofs. Truly, it's something of an achievement for a movie to be so unspeakably stupid that it makes Blades of Glory look like a high watermark for sophisticated screen comedy.

Equally impressive are the large number of funny people dragged though the slime here, with usually dependable jokesters like Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt and Diedrich Bader falling flat on their faces. They'll recover, but the future is less promising for doughy, Tony-winning actor Dan Fogler, who's in serious danger of a copyright infringement lawsuit for stealing Jack Black's every tic and mannerism. Fogler, in fact, gets to carry the workload here — he gets the most genital abuse — as Randy Daytona, a once gifted table tennis phenom, relegated to a sordid dinner theater in Reno after bombing out of the 1988 Olympics.

Randy gets a shot at redemption and revenge against the gangster that rubbed out his dad when FBI agent Rodriquez (George Lopez) recruits him to infiltrate a secret underground pingpong tournament run by the sinister mastermind Feng. This is where Walken comes in, resplendent in the silken robes of an ancient Mandarin, and cheerfully competing against hack stand-up comics in the race to deliver the most baroque Walken-style line reading. It's easy to crack a smile when Walken says things like “Okey dokey, artichokey,” but he's continually brought down by the pathetic spectacle around him.

You want fortune cookie-quality Asian gags? You got 'em. You want Lopez making every taco, burrito and Scarface reference he can without alerting INS? Done. You want Aisha Tyler wasted as cheesecake eye candy? They can do that. The shame is that writing partners Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant are the goofy brains behind the Reno 911! — we know they have chops, yet continue to grind out dog crap scripts like this, every bit as fresh and hilarious as an old Cracked Magazine left on the junior high school bus. Only with more kicks to the groin.

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