Reel NW


Robert Horton Recommends: More Like "Way of the Puck"

Film critic Robert Horton recommends other independent films you might enjoy if you like what you’ve seen on Reel NW.

Establishing the right tone for a documentary about a wacky subculture is tricky. And when that subculture is the fast-paced world of international air hockey, well, the temptation to mock this obscure sport is probably hard to resist. But in "Way of the Puck," director Eric D. Anderson admirably allows air hockey's colorful characters to emerge on their own terms, while he enjoys the oddball nature of the practice. And speaking of oddball, here are some movies that delve into the shadow realms of competitive sports that rarely find prime time on ESPN.

"The King of Kong" (2007). Seth Gordon's nail-biting (no kidding, it really is) documentary ode to the champions of the realm of Donkey Kong, which, like air hockey, you might have assumed had passed its peak in the late 20th century. Not so, insists this compulsively entertaining movie, which tracks the progress of the unexpectedly vivid personalities in the Donkey Kong world.

"Dodgeball" (2004). Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller play rival dodgeball captains in this daffy comedy that imagines a world in which dodgeball has caught on as a popular sport. Vaughn's team motto is "Aim Low," and the movie surely does, but it gets some shameless laughs along the way.

"Men with Brooms" (2002). And let's not forget Canada, where the curiously compelling sport of curling is gently kidded in star-director Paul Gross's comedy. Yes, it's another one about a group of rag-tag underdogs banding together against insurmountable odds, but there's something cheerful and good-natured about it all, and—I don't really even need to say this—the curling action is thrilling.

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