Released domestically in a whopping fourteen theaters, Ping Pong Playa made little in terms of waves when it first landed here back in September of 2008. Indeed, nothing had been heard from it since and with an uneven rating on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, the film was never heard of again until Image Entertainment released it on DVD in early January of this year. Then, as if a DVD release for the film wasn’t enough, Image opted to release the Blu-ray edition of the film a few weeks later…for a reason I have no explanation for.
You’ll be served a nonstop volley of laughs by this heartwarming, hilarious comedy! Christopher “C-dub” Wang has outrageous dreams of becoming a pro basketball star. But when his ping pong champion brother gets hurt, it’s up to C-dub to save the family legacy. Facing off against a devious rival player in the tournament of the year, will C-dub be up to the challenge? With some surprising help from an unusual group of kids, anything could happen!
I know what you’re thinking (if you’re still reading this anyway)—“haha, good one! This movie doesn’t really exist, right?” WRONG! This is incredibly real, boys and girls, and you will no doubt seek this out after reading this review if for no other reason to say that you too saw a film titled Ping Pong Playa. Even after Universal’s relative flop of Balls of Fury, someone else thought it would be a good idea to do a movie about ping pong, which is just baffling to me as in no way would that ever be a good idea for a film. But no, we’re told that is a funny film that is “good clean fun comedy” according to Variety.com. Yeah…I’d have to argue with every one of those words Variety used, as I don’t think this film fits any of those.
First of all, this film isn’t clean at all, unless you count the films tendency to censor itself (expletives are covered up with ping pong and basketball sounds…for no reason I can tell than to drop its rating from R to PG-13). It definitely isn’t good, fun or much of a comedy; okay, so there’s a few slapstick type moments to giggle and snort at, but unless you actually fall below the age rating of this film, then you are almost guaranteed to not find it funny. I found the cover more humorous than the film itself, as it likes to fall pretty o clichés and dumb jokes that we’ve all heard before, time and time again.
So is there anything redeeming about the film? Not really. The film attempts to construct an amalgam of Will Ferrell comedies and mix them with other films of similar high IQ levels. Honestly this film seems like it was written by a twelve year old and when I researched the writer and director of this film, Jessica Yu, I discovered that, naturally she won an Oscar. Wait, what? Yeah, she won an Oscar. Not for this, obviously, but for a documentary she did; she also directed several episodes of The West Wing, Grey’s Anatomy and even an episode of ER. As you can tell, she’s a predominantly dramatic director, so how she ended up with Ping Pong Playa I…have not a single *Ping Pong Ball Slap Sound*in’ clue.
I’m sure there will be those who find the film moderately entertaining; perhaps if I wasn’t already burned out on the idea of ping pong tournaments as vehicles for comedy, then I would’ve been more entertained by the film (it’s amazing how quickly Balls of Fury can burn you on the subject). As is, this is a completely baffling and juvenile picture that is too adult for children and too childish for adults. Skip It.
Oh hell, why would you release a film like this on Blu-ray. What possible profit could be made from manufacturing such a thing? Whatever the reason, Image Entertainment has opted to release this film in a standard Elite Blu-ray case without any inserts or cardboard slipcover. The jacket isn’t even reflective like their recent My Name is Bruce title, so it won’t even jump off of shelves as individuals walk past. Menus for the film are simple and easy to navigate…almost childishly so.
Video for the film is an AVC encoded 1.85:1 1080p image that is fair in picture quality. It’s a relatively soft looking image, full of grain and never once giving off the impression that it was shot on anything more than recycled film stock. I’m not sure how a modern production can look this…dull, but leave it to a film titled Ping Pong Playa to prove it can be done. Audio is a ultimately useless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that in no offers much up in terms of surrounds for this front-heavy, dialogue driven film.
Extras (yeah there are extras) include a Commentary with director/co-writer Jessica Yu and actor/co-writer Jimmy Tsai. Somehow this track isn’t worth listening to, as Yu’s discusses seem to indicate she doesn’t even really want to talk about the film, while Tsai just won’t shut up about it. No, it wasn’t that good of an effort, Tsai. Be quiet.
Two quick featurettes, Warm-Up Drills and Post-Game are offered up in standard definition, while the Theatrical Trailer closes things up, unless you want to read some cast and crew bios. There is no making-of piece, but the commentary makes up for that (assuming you wanted to watch one anyway).
Overall this isn’t a film I’d ever want to lay eyes on again and as much as I enjoy stupid comedies at times, I just couldn’t get into this. It was just a little bit too juvenile for my tastes and fell in the same pitfall that Fred Clause did: it tries to be an all-ages film but in the process of making it kid friendly, it loses any kind of “edge” that would allow adults to be entertained by it. Of course I did ultimately enjoy Fred Clause just because of its unique scenario, but with Ping Pong Playa, shockingly, it’d already been done before (and it hasn’t worked either times) . Skip It.
Ping Pong Playa arrives on Blu-ray on February 10th and is now available on DVD.