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Ping Pong Playa (DVD Review)

7 Dec, 2008 By: Pete Croatto

Ping Pong Playa

Prebook 12/9/08; Street 1/6/09
Box Office $0.08 million
$27.98 DVD, $35.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for language, including some sexual remarks and drug references.
Stars Jimmy Tsai, Roger Fan, Shelley Malil, Khary Payton, Smith Cho, Peter Paige, Jim Lau, Elizabeth Sung, Scott Lowell, Stephnie Weir.

Christopher “C-Dub” Wang is a trash-talking, basketball jersey-wearing Chinese-American who is forced to embrace his family’s passion in Ping Pong Playa, a playful, albeit broad, comedy/drama that should find acceptance in families’ dens nationwide.

While his contemporaries are starting careers and attending graduate school, “C-Dub” (co-writer Tsai) is content to live with his parents, playing video games and eating cereal by the crate.

Meanwhile, older brother Michael (Fan of Corky Romano) is a doctor and champion ping pong player, while his parents (Lau and Sung) run a ping pong goods store.

When Mrs. Wang and Michael are injured in a car accident, Christopher takes over his mom’s ping pong class at the local community center. At first, he avoids the responsibility, but the kids love C-dub, who begins to take the class and his life more seriously. A pending match with a nerdy, tight shorts-wearing nemesis (Paige of “Queer as Folk”) and a growing flirtation with a student’s sister (Cho of Meet Dave) accelerate the process.

For the most part, director/co-writer Jessica Yu (of the Oscar-winning Breathing Lessons: The Life of Mark O’Brien) balances goofy laughs with insights on growing up in a family steeped with expectations and tradition.

Think of it as a fusion of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and The Joy Luck Club. That odd approach, along with Tsai’s spirited, big-hearted performance, makes Ping Pong Playa enjoyable family fare even if the ironic goofiness does wear thin.

Extras include commentary by Tsai and Yu as well as two featurettes.

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