It’s official: geeks are the new gods of comedy. After Napoleon Dynamite, School For Scoundrels and Superbad, the spods, nerds and hairy-arsed fat blokes are monopolising Hollywood’s funny bone. But, as this lame sports movie/martial arts spoof proves, it takes more than a loser and some tiny balls to generate guffaws.
Squint and this could be ’70s chopsocky with a dash of ping pong: 19 years after bombing out of the ’88 Olympics, table tennis protégé Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler from Good Luck Chuck) is hired by the FBI to infiltrate the Triad gang that murdered his pop (Robert Patrick). Every year the gang holds a sudden-death ping-pong tournament at a secret location and the Feds want to get somebody onto the inside. First, though, Randy needs training from Mr Wong (James Hong), a blind former table tennis champ who plays master to Randy’s ‘glasshopper’.
So far, so far from funny. But it doesn’t help matters that Fogler (think Jack Black’s fatter, dumber cousin) has all the comic charisma of a gorilla on smack, or that Reno 911! scribes Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon have the budget of a Happy Meal. Then, out of nowhere, Christopher Walken appears in full Fu Manchu drag as gay, ping-pong obsessed Triad boss Feng, whispering lines like “Kill them, kill them all; we’re missing Antiques Roadshow.” What the….?
It’s a mind-boggling appearance destined to appear on a Top 50 list of cameo shame-os sometime soon. Still, it snags the movie an extra star rating purely because of how arse-wrinkingly, embarrassingly unfunny it is. It’s also the only highlight in an otherwise underachieving spoof full of misfiring gags about blind men falling down elevator shafts, homing devices being shoved up rectums and gay male courtesans.
Even the climactic table tennis tournament sucks: a few CGI bullet-time effects and Randy playing air guitar on his paddle to Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’. In short: it’s a comedy light on ping, heavy on pong.
Enter The Dragon meets Shaolin Soccer meets Dodgeball - just with infinitely smaller balls. A camp turn from Christopher Walken astounds but it'll be funnier if you wait for the DVD and lubricate it with a six-pack. Or three.
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