During my youth, we always had a Ping Pong table in our basement. While it was used most often as a collection device for discarded sweatshirts and old magazines, every now and then the top would be cleaned and an impromptu game would ensue.
I was the youngest of three boys so inevitably I was always the last one to be given a chance to play the weak link, as it were. Because of this age handicap, I was forced to watch most of the time, possibly squeezing into a game when someone left. While this was frustrating, it did allow me to study the techniques of others. When no one was around, I would fold the table in half and practice for hours.
The older I grew, the more competitive I became. I knew my skills were fairly advanced when I started to beat anyone who came to our house, including my brothers. Soon I realized that table tennis was a great way to prove my worth in the world. Any time I went to a party in junior high and high school, the first thing I did was look for a table. This was the best opportunity for me to look good in a social situation and I played it for all it was worth, wowing spectators while spinning and slamming shots at unsuspecting opponents.
Arriving at college, I noticed a weathered Ping Pong table in the basement of my dorm. I realized that this table was the key to my social life and a possible entry into the world of women who were rumored to mingle about the premises.
On one weekend night, I wandered into the basement lounge where a large group of people were drinking and socializing. No one was at the table so I sauntered up, paddle in my back pocket, and inquired whether anyone was interested in playing. Within seconds a spry, pimply-faced sophomore appeared at the other end of the table. His friends started laughing, betting each other that I wouldnt score more than three points, five if I was lucky. I chuckled to myself. If this guy was the best they had to offer, college was going to be very good to me. My focus intensified as I quickly realized that if I could embarrass their champion, I would gain immediate street cred. This was my time, my grand collegiate coming-out party.
Unfortunately, my opponent didnt see it like that. In what seemed like a blur of white flashes, I was disposed of in a matter of minutes, scoring a measly six points (four of which came from him barely missing on slams). I kindly asked for a rematch, hoping to make a better showing. The next game ended even quicker as he skunked me eleven to zero.
I ended up playing a lot of table tennis with that kid over the next year (always privately without people watching). As it turned out, his father was a national champion and had trained his son to be the same (he even had a machine that served balls to you so you could practice your slamming technique). I never did beat him, but he certainly taught me a thing or two about the game.
Table tennis remains in my life to this day, although the games have grown infrequent. However, I was intrigued when I saw that a new comedy was being released with table tennis as the backdrop. Maybe a hit film full of laughs would reignite the passion that once burned so bright inside of me? Then again, maybe not.
There is little need to go into much detail about Balls of Fury the name says it all. This is nothing more than a haphazard conglomeration of gags loosely tied together in an attempt to be funny. Unfortunately, there is very little humor in this film. Its sophomoric in content and fails to offer any unique edge that would provide some redeeming qualities. To be honest, Im shocked this film didnt go straight to video.
Junior high school kids will find the most worth in this film since they are the least discerning and most immature social group. If youre looking for a film to share with a teenager, this one would work just be prepared for a slew of predictable, boring, and juvenile scenarios. A hokey D+ for Balls of Fury.