directed by Joe Heslinga
starring Tommy Adkisson, Mike Bowers, Frédéric Collignon
In that dark era before video games pocketed all the entertainment quarters, hip guys and gals played foosball. It’s table top soccer that requires quick reactions and demands enough strategy to keep it interesting. We follow the history of the game from its introduction after World War 2, its explosive growth in the 1970’s and its collapse as Donkey Kong and Pac Man ate its lunch. Like all entertainments, it hasn’t gone way, but its following is small and aging. They meet up in tournaments complete with high energy sports casters describing the action. It’s a professional sport, wrought small. We follow six of the top players as they fight it out for the world’s championship in Louisville, KY. Families get involved, and there are 12-year-old girls playing the game who will kick your but down the video arcade and all the way back to Blockbuster.
Is there enough excitement here to force a comeback? Perhaps, perhaps not. The game offers an appealing retro element and needs great hand/eye coordination and better yet, there is no video screen blasting bad 8-bit music. The filmmaker carefully introduces the characters, their backgrounds and motivations. A doctor, a pot farmer and a man who makes his living at the sport gives us a good cross section of America. Where things drag lies in the lovingly detailed tournament at the end of the film; it seems endless, and the actual foosball action happens so fast it demands a few slo-mo camera shots to let us see just what happens before the ball drops in the goal, I love the people in here, and I’d happily share a beer with them, but I’m not stepping up to a table with any of them.
This film was presented as part of the 2019 Florida Film Festival sponsored by the Enzian Theater in Maitland, FL.