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Special When Lit to be released Jan. 17

November 23, 2010

Hi all, DVD/Blu-ray release set for January 17th. itunes and digital stores in USA/Canada for January 31st. We’ll keep you posted!

Just announced on their Facebook page.

For those of you non-pinball people, Special When Lit is a documentary on the culture of pinball, including shows, tournaments, collectors, etc.  I saw it several months ago at a film festival in SF.  It’s a well-produced film and definitely worth a look.

However, I gotta say, I thought they pushed the “freaks and geeks” angle a little too hard. If you saw the excellent film King of Kong, you likely recall how they poke fun at the quirky personalities that still go gonzo over classic video games.  Special When Lit, not surprisingly, takes similar shots but I think maybe they were trying to one-up King of Kong.  Yet the key difference is that King of Kong ultimately has a soft spot for its protagonist, Steve Weibe, such that by the end you find yourself rooting for the guy.  He’s a reminder that there’s a part of all of us that geeks out on something.  Special When Lit, on the other hand, just sort of takes the lunch money and then goes looking for another kid to rob.

In that sense, the ultimate product winds up being a bit aimless.  Toward the end of the film they make a play for your heartstrings by posing the question “is pinball dying?”, and how awful it would be to lose such an important historical institution.  But they just spent the previous hour convincing you that only freaks and outcasts even bother with it.  I think many viewers will walk away from it, thinking: “if it’s gone, who cares?”  Which is really too bad, because ever since King of Kong there’s been a minor resurgence in classic video gaming.  I’ve even seen bars put in Donkey Kong and other classic games and people actually play them!  I don’t think the same will happen as a result of Special When Lit.

eh… but maybe I’m bitter and jaded myself.  See it and make up your own mind, but definitely see it.

(On a sidenote: SWL features two bay area players: Rick Stetta and Neil Shatz)

One Comment
  1. Henry permalink
    November 24, 2010 11:18 pm

    You’re the second person I’ve heard make those comments after seeing the movie — and it makes me sad, because I was hoping the movie wouldn’t be as brutal to the fans as the trailer made it out to be.

    On the flip side: yay, there’s still room to make a better movie! (I hope.)

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