Balls of Fury Robert Ben Garant

Balls of Fury Robert Ben Garant

What’s the best way to make a comedy funny these days? Push the buttons that give your film an R-rating and let the misbehaviour fly. Apart from The Simpsons Movie, it seems as though anything less than an "R” is merely not funny enough these days. However, the worst thing for these lacklustre movies is that the gross-out, filthy-mouthed ones making all of the money (read: anything Judd Apatow touches) are vulgar and intelligent. Therein lies the problem for Balls of Fury: it can’t win on its half-assed, lame-brained, PG-13 jokes.

The premise serves up Dan Fogler as Randy Daytona, a washed up ping-pong Olympic hopeful who’s brought back to the sport 20 years after his humiliation to help FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez) crackdown on the criminal activity of Feng (Christopher Walken). To do so, Randy trains with Master Wong (the inexhaustible James Hong) and his niece Maggie (Maggie Q) to brush up on his skills to qualify for Feng’s ultimate ping-pong sudden death tournament. Signal the hilarity. Or not.

Unlike Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, where the novelty sport is delivered with overzealous might and constant side-splitting one-liners, Balls of Fury deserves a paddling for throwing in the towel so quickly. Relative newcomer Fogler has the chops to be a solid sidekick but he’s no Will Ferrell, or Seth Rogen. (I’d say he shares a strain of comedic DNA with Rob Schneider.) His "unconventional” looks fit the part but it’s that part that fails him, much like the other over-inflated, ridiculous characters (witness Walken out-shame his role in Kangaroo Jack).

Much like Garant and Thomas Lennon’s Reno 911!, it’s hit and miss comedy that panders to the lowest common denominator. Their script is plagued with bad jokes that either kill the novelty of ping-pong or simply neglect the funny bone completely. And then there are the unabashed racist jabs, which never seem to die, whether it’s Randy the "honky” who doesn’t belong in ping-pong, Lopez still cashing in on his Latino shtick or the tasteless onslaught of Asian stereotypes. Sigh.

Tetherball? Tiddlywinks? Let’s hope these lowbrow sports comedies don’t sink that low because Balls of Fury is about all I can take. (Alliance Atlantis)