You'll have a ball with this heartwarming, hilarious comedy! Christopher "C-dub" Wang is a Chinese-American gangsta-rapper wannabe with outrageous, and unlikely, dreams of becoming a pro basketball star. When his ping pong champion brother gets hurt, it's up to C-dub to pick up the paddle and save the family business. But when he's facing off against a devious rival player in the ping pong tournament of the year, will C-dub be up to the challenge? With some surprising help from an unusual group of kids, anything could happen!
Jessica Yu's Ping Pong Playa is that rare film unlikely to appeal to a director's usual fan base. Best known as a documentary filmmaker, her first feature targets a completely different audience. In it, co-writer/production accountant Jimmy Tsai plays Christopher "C-dub" Wang, a Los Angeles-based, basketball-obsessed, Chinese-American slacker. Chris shares his enthusiasm for urban culture with African-American best friend J.P. Money (Khary Payton). J.P., in turn, has been taking Chinese-language lessons, so the cultural exchange doesn't just run one way. Unfortunately for Chris, his family lives for ping-pong, a pursuit in which he has little interest. When his mother (Elizabeth Sung, The Joy Luck Club) and brother, Michael (Roger Fan, Better Luck Tomorrow), are injured in a minor traffic accident, however, they recruit him to help run their supply store and to teach table tennis at the local community center. Since Chris has just lost a gig hawking cell phones at the mall, he's in no position to decline. Along with some Asian-American youngsters, both Chinese and East Asian, who hunger for a cool role model, Chris changes from the world's laziest human being into something that almost resembles a respectable member of society. With its antic humor and underage hijinks, Yu's self-proclaimed popcorn comedy offers more mainstream appeal than her inventive documentaries In the Realms of the Unreal and Protagonist (she won the Oscar for non-fiction short Breathing Lessons). If the loud-mouthed Chris can be fairly off-putting at first, her affectionate representation of his multicultural world rings true. --Kathleen C. Fennessy