review for Balls of Fury on AllMovie

Balls of Fury (2007)
by Derek Armstrong review

Balls of Fury was the recipient of much critical fury when it first hit theaters. Maybe that's because the title sounded like a ripoff of Blades of Glory, which came out earlier that year, or because Fury's Dan Fogler seemed like a transparent attempt at finding "a poor man's Jack Black." Whatever the reason, it was as though all the pent-up frustration about two-bit comedies and their enslavement to formula was unleashed on this one little ping-pong movie. Which contradicts one very central and very original thing about Balls of Fury -- it might just be the first ever mainstream comedy about ping-pong. And it's certainly the first film since Forrest Gump to digitally conjure such realistic feats of paddle prowess, which Fury does repeatedly, with contagious joy. That's a good way to describe the entire film -- its surprising warmth and sweetness can't help but feel contagious, once viewers look past their preconceived biases. Fogler is, actually, his own comic personality -- he bears a physical resemblance to Black, but his perfectly named Randy Daytona is Fogler's own Def Leppard-loving goofball creation. While Daytona is in fact a depressed schlub working the dingiest casinos in Reno, he's also a genuine ping-pong savant. A lesser script might have made him a hapless wannabe, but writer-director Ben Garant and writer Thomas Lennon respect Daytona's genius, finding the absurd in his situation, rather than requiring him to play the clown -- quite different from how they would have written his character on Reno 911! They've also dreamed up a funny array of ping-pong lifer nut jobs, whose tournament underworld is comic gold, especially as overseen by Christopher Walken in a kimono and a Brooklyn accent. The title tells you this movie has balls, but it can't prepare you for its unexpected heart.