BALLS OF FURY
*1/2 (out of 5)
August 29, 2007
Dan Fogler as RANDY DAYTONA
Christopher Walken as FENG
George Lopez as AGENT ERNIE RODRIQUEZ
Maggie Q as MAGGIE WONG
James Hong as MASTER WONG
Studio: Rogue Pictures
Directed by: Ben Garant
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I can imagine how the pitch meeting for “Balls of Fury” went over at Rogue Pictures a year or so ago. You have director Ben Garant and co-writer Thomas Lennon jumping around a conference table, saying this could be bigger than “Dodgeball” and bigger than “Beerfest.” It’d be a ping-pong version of “Enter the Dragon.”
And then they’d pull out the poster, assuring the studio execs that the testicle jokes alone would sell the movie.
Of course, I’m clueless as to what actually happened in this pitch meeting, but if there was anything of substance mentioned – beyond the substance-laiden testicle jokes – it got lost in the translation of the film.
I have nothing against sophomoric comedies. In fact, the summer of 2007 has been a banner year for them. First, “Knocked Up” knocked it out of the park. The “Hot Rod” brought stupidity to a new level of funny. Then “Superbad” went another step to bringing back the raunchy R-rated comedy.
We were bound to have a stinker come along.
“Balls of Fury” tells the story of has-been ping-pong champion Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler), who crashed and burned at the ’88 Olympics. Now, Randy is an adult, living the pathetic life of a two-bit lounge act in Reno, Nevada. One day, the FBI comes knocking on his door, inviting him to work undercover to infiltrate an international crime ring by way of their elite table-tennis tournament.
Of course, Randy is rusty, so he enlists the help of a famed Chinese ping-pong trainer (James Hong) and his hot niece Maggie (Maggie Q). While it’s nice to see Maggie Q strut around in hot outfits during this film, showing us plenty of skin as well as an often-hidden tattoo on her left hip. Still, Maggie isn’t enough to keep my interest – especially since she’s not in half the movie. And shots of Jason Scott Lee in his underpants and Dan Fogler’s chubby legs in work-out shorts are not good substitutes.
The only other highlight of the film is Christopher Walken as the international crime boss Feng. I’ve heard from some actors on the set that everyone was trying to do Walken, but the best Walken impression is done by the man himself, delivering lines like he’s doing a night-club act. The randomness of the dialogue work for him, but it’s lost on the other actors.
Star Dan Fogler has a modicum of talent, but it probably wasn’t the wisest movie in the history of cinema to give him a leading role, even in a comedy. Chris Farley, this guy ain’t. I have a feeling he’ll be better suited for roles in films like the forthcoming “Good Luck Chuck” in which he plays second fiddle to Dane Cook.
Too many scenes rely on cheap jokes I’ve seen dozens of times before or poor delivery of slapstick or dialogue. These scenes are left to pitter out on screen with the punch-line power of a bad SNL sketch. It’s no wonder that the humor in the film doesn’t go past jokes about balls.
I can’t say I didn’t laugh in the film, but I can assure you that I didn’t laugh enough. If you’re in the mood for low-brow humor, go see any of the other films out this summer that cater to that audience. “Balls of Fury” just ain’t worth ticket prices these days.