How entertaining? ★★★☆☆
Thought provoking? ★☆☆☆☆
5 July 2012
This a movie review of PING PONG.
“I think your mind can cure a lot of your body,” Terry.
There has been talk of the “grey pound”, a dubious term for the spending power of pensioners at the cinema box office. Recent financial success stories include THE KING’S SPEECH and THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. Marketing speak aside, catering for all demographics with crafted fair is surely a good thing. And just because a film is aimed at a one or two quadrants doesn’t mean others cannot appreciate the work. PING PONG has charm in abundance and should delight any fan of uplifting sports movies.
The documentary follows eight table tennis players, who have headed to the 15th World Veteran Ping Pong Competition. There are 2076 competitors from 51 countries. We are concerned with the singles and doubles in the over-80s and over-85s. In fact, Dorothy, from Australia, is 100, and the oldest competitor ever. The first 25 minutes are a whistle-stop intro to the players. We get snapshots of personalities and backgrounds, including a body builder (who still impressively body builds), and a lady who fought in the French resistance during the Second World War. These men and women from around the world are competitive and driven, but also modest (well virtually all).
Of course we have the usual sports cinema tropes: the underdog, the training, the tension as the final hurdles approach… You get my drift. No wheel re-invention here. However, such thing is unnecessary. The fact we are celebrating the tenacity of people well into pension age is fresh enough. When does an audience see this group talked about, let alone so positively? At less than 80 minutes, PING PONG whips along to its lovely finale.