Daily News header

Ping Pong Playa Film Review

By Kam Williams

Aspiring Hoop Star Turns to Table Tennis in Cross-Cultural Comedy

C-Dub (Jimmy Tsai) is a teenager who has opted to put all of his eggs in one basket, namely, the pursuit of his dream of playing in the NBA. Suffering from delusions of grandeur, he's dropped out of school and fritters away his future playing street ball against younger kids in a local park, instead of concentrating on getting a good education or on pursuing a career. He's even quit his minimum-wage job at the mall, basically because he sees menial work as being beneath him.

The slacker's story would probably sound unremarkable, if he were just another black kid inadvisedly trying to make it out of the ghetto via basketball alone. But C-Dub's happens to be a Chinese-American who's real name is Christopher Wang, and he wasn't raised in the slums but in an upscale section of suburban Los Angeles. Consequently, his frustrated parents can't comprehend how one of their sons could become a doctor (Roger Fan) while the other would be an irresponsible, Peter Pan with a basketball Jones.


For C-Dub is a trash-talking wannabe, who walks, talks and dresses like a hip-hop gangsta, even when he's away from the court. The question to be answered is whether he might mature and bring honor instead of disgrace on his very embarrassed relatives.

This is the prevailing theme of Ping Pong Playa, an engaging cross-cultural comedy which milks most of its humor by taking a lighthearted look at what it's like to be raised Asian in this country. For the picture's protagonist is as much running away from the pressure to overachieve academically in math, music and on the SAT as he is attracted to the more mellow alternatives he perceives in the African-American community.


The plot thickens when his mother (Elizabeth Sung) sprains both of her wrists, which means she temporarily can't give any lessons at the Wang family-owned business, the Ping Pong Palace. Chris dutifully fills in and takes to table tennis, a sport he's long shunned. And, soon he even decides to enter the 15th Annual Golden Cock Competition.

Of equal import, he finds himself falling for Jennifer (Smith Cho), the beautiful big sister of one of his students. However, because she's a Ph.D. student writing her dissertation on the objectification of Chinese women, he knows he'll have to clean up his act considerably to impress her. Can you see where this is all heading?

Yes, Ping Pong Playa is a transparent romance/sports flick whose parallel strands unfold exactly as expected, yet that predictability is easily trumped by the refreshingly appealing parade of well-developed, Asian-American characters who make the movie enjoyable by turning an array of common cinematic stereotypes on their heads.


Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexual dialogue and drug references.
In English and Cantonese with subtitles.
Running time: 97 minutes
Studio: IFC Films

To see a trailer of Ping Pong Playa,

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Here are the must see and top Ten DVD releases for this week, including The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, This Is Where I Leave You, and Finding Your Roots.
Kam Williams gives mini-reviews of movies opening December 12, 2014, including Exodus: Gods and Kings, Inherent Vice, and Chris Rock in Top Five.
Ben Crump's considerable acumen as both a litigator and an advocate has ensured that those most frequently marginalized are protected by the nation's contract with its constituency.
A perilous, 1,100 mile journey proves to be a woman's salvation, giving her chance to conquer and battle the demons within herself.
They came together in 2004 to form the first women critics' organization in the United States, in the belief that women's perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. And WFCC is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
President Obama weighed in after the grand jury decisions not to indict officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month


Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

landing page ad

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site