Critical paddling: Low-level laffer seems set to bounce out of theatres in short order

Balls of Fury

on August 31, 2007 by Chad Greene
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The word of mouth on this chopsocky sports satire will likely have audiences waiting for the end credits to roll, as the only slightly inspired sequence Reno 911! co-creators Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon manage here is an all-cast sing-along of Def Leppard's “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that plays over them.

The music selection is a nod to one of the few interesting traits that Tony Award winner Dan Fogler is given to work with—an obsession with Def Leppard that serves as shorthand for the way in which his Randy Daytona's disastrous performance in the semifinal ping pong match at the 1988 Olympics arrested his development at the age of 12. A worldwide laughingstock, the down-and-out former phenom—still clutching his lucky “Def Leppard Rules” paddle—has been reduced to sharing a stage at a third-rate Reno casino with a guy who does a duet of “Two Tickets to Paradise” with a cockatoo. And that guy, Rick the Birdmaster (David Koechner), gets top billing.

But when FBI desk jockey Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez) daydreams an improbable plan to take down the nefarious Feng (Christopher Walken, a walking non sequitur of self parody in Asian arch-villain drag), he needs a table jockey to plant at the ping pong-obsessed triad boss' invitation-only tournament and recruits Randy because Feng ordered Daddy Daytona's (Robert Patrick) murder when he bet heavy—and lost—on his son back in '88.

To whip Randy back into shape in time, Rodriguez enlists Feng's one-time table-tennis mentor Master Wong (James Hong). Playing the blind master, the venerable Hong steals scene after scene with his deadpan delivery of uninspirational lines like “Bring only your strength, your honor and a check for $300,” and “You must believe in yourself when no one else does—like right now, for instance.”

Unfortunately, following as it does on the heels of their subpar scripts for Reno 911!: Miami and Let's Go to Prison , Balls of Fury provides little reason for anyone besides the producers of the in-the-works Night at the Museum 2 to believe in Garant and Lennon. This low-level laffer seems set to bounce out of theatres in short order.
Distributor: Rogue
Cast: Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, James Hong, Maggie Q, Terry Crews, Robert Patrick, Diedrich Bader, Aisha Tyler, Patton Oswalt and Thomas Lennon
Director: Robert Ben Garant
Screenwriters: Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant
Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jonathan Glickman
Genre: Action comedy
Rating: PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor and for language
Running time: 90 min.
Release date: August 29, 2007
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