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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

This movie was a funny, clever tale about a silly sport. This movie kept the audience in stitches the whole time. This movie had cameos to die for and endearing characters spouting quotable lines.

This movie was "Dodgeball." "Balls of Fury," however, has none of those traits.

"Balls of Fury" falls short of a decent comedy on so many different levels it's hard to keep track of them all. I guess the best place to start is the plot.

The film follows Randy, a former ping-pong child prodigy who tries to bring down a crime kingpin through a ping-pong tournament. While this premise has comedy potential, it is never realized.

The overall sweep of the movie is an attempt to be ridiculous, but "Balls of Fury" is not nearly ridiculous enough.

In order to pull off the absurd premise, the movie would need to have mile-a-minute gags, like in "Kung Fu Hustle." The viewer cannot have a chance to stop and analyze the scene they are watching, because that would detract from the absurdity of the entire film.

Instead, director Ben Garant, whose gems as a writer include "Taxi" and "Herbie Fully Loaded," chose to try to inject actual story and emotion into the plot. This would work if there were any stakes to the movie, but the viewer is so unconcerned about any of the main characters that any back-stories or subplots are a waste of film. Furthermore, the direction and shots are poorly conceived and bland. At no point was there any parody or clever camera position.

This brings me to the Tokyo-after-Godzilla-and-Mothra-have-devastated-the-city performance of Dan Fogler. As the lead, Randy is both unfunny and, for a good part of the film, boring.

Fogler, who has no real claim to fame, acts as though we should all laugh simply because he is on screen. This self-assured demeanor in a comedian is undesirable. Comedy is hard. The minute comedians think they are funny and cease to attempt to be funny, their career is over. It's not a shame that Fogler has made this mistake before his career even began. Let this be a lesson to the rest of the young comedians out there: Just because you have landed the lead in a major comedy doesn't automatically mean you're funny.

There is one satisfying part of the movie, however, and that is the wardrobe selection for Christopher Walken (who is entertaining and does what he can with an underdeveloped mess). The crass combination of zany Asian outfits infused with Vegas' disregard for anything approaching normal allows his outfits to steal the show.

While there were two or three funny scenes in the movie not revealed in the previews, "Balls of Fury" is still not worth your time. You could even tune into ESPN 8, "The Ocho" for a better experience.

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