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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Robert Ben Garant
Cast:
Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez, Maggie Q, James Hong, Terry Crews, Robert Patrick, Diedrich Bader
Writing Credits:
Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant

Tagline:
A huge comedy with tiny balls.

Synopsis:
Watch the balls fly in this hilarious, action-packed comedy starring Christopher Walken and George Lopez! When former professional table tennis phenomenon Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is recruited by FBI Agent Rodriguez (Lopez) for a mission in the unsanctioned, underground and utterly unhinged world of extreme table tennis, he's determined to bounce back to his former glory and smoke out his father's killer, the arch-fiend Feng (Walken). But with danger coming at him from every angle, will Randy be able to keep his eye on the balls? From the creators of Night at the Museum and Reno 911! comes the outrageous film critics are calling "a fast, furious comedy!" (Thelma Adams, US Weekly)

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$14.312 million on 3052 screens.
Domestic Gross
$32.844 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 12/18/2007

Bonus:
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• “Balls Out: The Making of Balls of Fury” Featurette
• “Under the Balls: The Life of a Ball Wrangler” Featurette
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Balls Of Fury (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 18, 2007)

How to tell an actor has arrived in Hollywood: when he or she becomes a “type”. Can’t get Johnny Depp? Grab a Johnny Depp type! Heck, Skeet Ulrich has built a whole career around that concept.

One look at 2007’s Balls of Fury tells us that Jack Black has become a real movie star, as he now inspires his own “type”. In this flick, Dan Fogler acts as the Black substitute in the role of Randy Daytona, a former child prodigy Ping-Pong star who fell on hard times after he lost to East German Karl Wolfschtagg (Thomas Lennon) in the 1988 Olympics. 19 years later, this leaves him stuck doing a Ping-Pong stunt act in a cheap Reno casino.

Matters change in an interesting way when FBI Agent Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez) recruits Randy’s help. The Feds want to nab Asian gangster Mr. Feng, a Ping-Pong fanatic who runs select tournaments every five years. Randy has a personal stake in this; Mr. Feng killed his dad (Robert Patrick) when the elder Daytona couldn’t pay his gambling debts. After so many years out of competition, Randy starts rusty, but under the tutelage of Mr. Wong (James Hong), he manages to snag an invite to Mr. Feng’s tournament. The movie follows his adventures there.

On the positive side, Balls contains surprisingly few puns on its already punny title. The word doesn’t often go uttered, so we don’t get stuck with endless iterations of that same verbal gag.

On the negative side, the flick prefers to act out its title’s pun. We get numerous sight gags that revolve around pain inflicted to various male crotches. The first isn’t funny, and they don’t improve from there.

Does anything else about Balls amuse? Yeah, but only in minor doses. While the movie’s title doesn’t inspire confidence, it does boast a reasonable amount of talent at work. Directed by Reno 911!’s Robert Ben Garant, you’ll find others from that series involved here; Thomas Lennon gets the most prominent role, but others pop up as well, and many of the additional actors have real talent. They help take some middling material and make it sporadically entertaining.

Though there’s only so much they can do with this lightweight concept. It doesn’t help that Balls feels an awful lot like a semi-rip-off of Dodgeball. Sure, it gives the story an Enter the Dragon spin, but I can’t escape the feeling that Vince Vaughn and his pals already made this movie.

And that’s what Balls lacks: Vince Vaughn and his pals. As I already alluded, the “pals” don’t go missing quite as much since Balls boasts a pretty good supporting cast of his own. Unfortunately, it sags in terms of its leading man, as Fogler is no Vince Vaughn.

Or Jack Black. Or Chris Farley. Or Sam Kinison. Or any of the other chubby performers he seems to channel for his work here. Based on his turn here, I think Fogler has some talent, but he displays a serious lack of personality. He comes across as an amalgam of these other guys and never shows anything to make him seem like his own person. This means that he offers a colorless, flat performance that never does anything to leap off the screen.

I’ll say this for Balls of Fury: it’s funnier than you’d expect based on its terrible ads. And it’s also more amusing than any movie with such a stupid title should be. But does that make it a good flick? Nope. It surpasses low expectations but only occasionally amuses.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Balls of Fury appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No significant issues developed during this satisfying transfer.

Only a little softness ever developed, as some wide shots occasionally looked a bit iffy. Otherwise, the flick seemed accurate and well-defined. No jagged edges materialized and edge enhancement was minimal. Some shimmering cropped up in the Ping-Pong nets, but not to a serious degree. Source flaws remained absent during this clean presentation.

Colors produced the picture’s strongest elements. The film went with a broad palette that looked terrific at times. The Chinatown shots and some of Feng’s costumes and décor really stood out as positive; they showed bright, vivid hues. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows looked acceptably smooth and clear. Overall, the movie provided solid visuals.

If you expect much more than a standard “comedy mix” from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Balls of Fury, you won’t get it. The climactic sequence added some life to the mix, as gunfire and explosions opened up the spectrum to a decent degree. Otherwise this was a pretty forward-focused track. The various elements used the side speakers well and moved smoothly, and music showed good stereo imaging. There wasn’t a lot to stand out from the crowd, though.

No issues with audio quality occurred. Speech was natural and concise, and effects showed good clarity. Those elements were crisp and clear, and the smattering of louder bits offered decent bass. Music was also fairly bright and full. This wasn’t an ambitious mix, but it satisfied.

A few minor extras round out the set. We get seven Deleted Scenes (6:40 total) and an Alternate Ending (1:52). The segments include “Gary Catches Randy Trying to Escape” (1:26), “Rodriguez Tries to Use Credit Card to Open Door – FBI Shoots At Them” (0:32), “Feng and Randy on Rope Bridge” (0:32), “Feng’s Presentation of Polymer Guns” (0:46), “Randy Empties His Trunk” (1:11), “Randy Sees Ghost of Dad in Alley” (1:04) and “Randy Sees Ghost of Dad While Hanging From Bridge” (1:06).

During the “Deleted Scenes”, a few funny bits emerge; I especially like that we get more of Diedrich Bader’s sex slave in “Escape”. The others aren’t quite as good, but some of them have their moments. The presentation order makes no sense, though, as it flits from one part of the movie to another. Wouldn’t it make more sense to show them in the order they would have appeared if they’d been in the final cut?

As for the “Alternate Ending”, it’s not bad. It leads toward a potential sequel, and it brings back Bader. That makes it okay in my book.

Two featurettes follow. Balls Out: The Making of Balls of Fury goes for 13 minutes, 58 seconds as it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from director Robert Ben Garant, writer/2nd unit director/actor Thomas Lennon, table tennis advisor Wei Wang, table tennis technical advisor Diego Schaaf and actors Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, James Hong, George Lopez, Jason Scott Lee, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa and Maggie Q. We get a few notes about the film’s origins and influences, cast and performances, Ping-Pong training, the prominent use of Def Leppard and the work of the directors. The focus remains superficial but some decent notes emerge. This becomes a short but fun piece.

Under the Balls: The Life of a Ball Wrangler fills five minutes, 18 seconds with notes from Lennon, Garant, Fogler, Maggie Q, Tagawa, actors Diedrich Bader and Aisha Tyler, and “ball wrangler” Irina Voronina. Remember when I said that the movie indulged in surprisingly few puns that use the word “balls”? “Life” makes up for that in a big way. Voronina played the big-chested topless girl in the Reno 911! movie, and here she shows up for a one-joke featurette that puns “balls” about 1000 times in its five minutes. If she went topless again, it’d be worthwhile, but as it stands, it’s predictable and lame.

A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for The Strangers, The Office, American Pie Presents Beta House, the Balls of Fury videogame and HD-DVD. No trailer for Balls appears on the disc.

Sometimes when a movie seems better than expected, that acts as a strong endorsement. In the case of Balls of Fury, however, it simply means the film doesn’t completely stink. Balls provides spotty entertainment but doesn’t ever turn into anything terribly satisfying. The DVD offers very good picture along with decent audio and a few minor extras. This is the kind of flick you watch when it hits cable on a dreary Sunday afternoon, not something that you buy on DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.1666 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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