I’m honestly stunned to consider how dreadful “Balls of Fury” actually is. This picture had the potential to be the break-out sillyfest of the year, yet nothing comedic sticks to the screen. The film just stumbles around, without any personality or direction, looking for laughs in all the wrong places.
After blowing the 1988 Olympics due to parental issues, Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) ditched competitive Table Tennis to work the seedy nightclubs of Nevada. When an FBI agent (George Lopez) offers the slob a chance for redemption at evil warlord Feng’s (Christopher Walken) underground Ping-Pong tournament, Randy quickly agrees and heads to Master Wong (James Wong) for training. With the help of fellow pupil Maggie (Maggie Q), Randy starts to find his old paddle mojo again, setting him loose in Feng’s secret palace where danger lurks everywhere he steps.
Clearly “Fury” is abusing the template from 2004’s sleeper smash “Dodgeball,” a similar obscure sport farce that had far greater luck sniffing laughs out of the minutiae of elementary school gym class recreation. “Fury” is much more slovenly concoction, figuring the very inclusion of Ping-Pong equals comedy gold, letting the rest of the picture slide by without much thought. I hate to break it to the filmmakers, but Table Tennis just isn’t all that funny, no matter how much competitive masculinity is assigned to it.
Writers Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant (who also directs), veterans of the “Reno 911!” franchise, aren’t putting in much of an effort with “Fury.” Outside of the Ping-Pong theatrics there’s nothing to snack on in the script. There’s a huge build up to Feng’s tournament which promises goofy excitement, but once there, the film wanders away from that potential. Other scenes suffer from the same Post-It note mentality; a loose string of emaciated ideas that probably cracked up the writer’s room, but on the screen it looks sloppy and unrehearsed.
Garant tends to lean on his cast for support, which leads directly to the feet of star Dan Fogler. While backed by a series of brief B-list cameos, Maggie Q in skimpy outfits, George Lopez celebrating his 100,000th lame Mexican culture joke, Christopher Walken killing his career further (personally, I blame his obnoxious cowbelled self-awareness), and Jason Scott Lee (as Randy’s Chinatown bully) taking a few gulps of theatrical release air before he’s sent back to the Blockbuster shelves, “Fury” hinges on Fogler’s appeal with far more desperation than I was expecting.
Coming off as a dollar-store version of Chris Farley, Fogler is the chuckle anchor that pins “Fury” to the ground. It’s a strange sight to watch the actor improvising his way around the movie without any success rate, often just stopping cold and letting the scene die as though cut was called but somebody forgot to shut off the camera. Fogler is terrible in “Fury” not because he’s simply unfunny, but more that funny doesn’t appear to inhabit his DNA. If there was a Wicker Man for young comedy nobodies, toss Fogler in the burning chest along with Jon Heder and Will Arnett.
Resorting to crotch-wallops, gay panic situations, fart jokes, “Date Movie” level satiric jabs at Hollywood conventions (bullet-timer), heavily underlined retro kisses (Def Leppard is mentioned at least 100 times in the film), and a plot that’s dying to find something to do, and this leaves “Balls of Fury” an official waste of time and a must to avoid.Rating: D-