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Tue August 28, 2007
Balls of Fury
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
For slacker comedy, one of the indexes I think I will use is how many times the hero is kicked in the groin. In Balls of Fury, ex-ping-pong Olympian Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is kicked in the titular region at least three times, making this a pratfall-prone, intellectually-challenged comedy with enough low-level laughs to satisfy low cultural instincts. He is hired by the FBI to find a world-class villain Feng (Christopher Walken) with an affinity for table tennis.
The echoes of Karate Kid and Enter the Dragon are fleeting, looking like great dramas next to this uneven revenge/kung fu comedy.
The laughs, especially those that have Randy bouncing his ball off an opponent's face (you have to see it in its context to enjoy), are enough for even my guest laugher, Patricia, to continue her mirth marathon with her son, Anthony. But the jokes are usually base, elevated only by the presence of Christopher Walken, who has perfected self parody so that laughs come before he says his first line. His fey Fang is amusing given his usually virile roles, but he makes credible the claim that he "dresses out of Elton John's garage sale." Maggie Q is slender and charming, lending a martial arts aura to the proceedings, satirizing the genre with grace.
Def Leppard does its best to keep the action at least musically interesting, its "Pour Some Sugar on Me" rendition by the cast a high point, albeit in the closing credits. The revenge-themed dramas of this summer will not suffer by comparison. The superior summer slacker spectacles, Knocked Up and Superbad, are not in danger of competition from this lightweight fin de summer competitor.
Balls of Fury is just a slight amusement lacking the male power suggested by its title.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com