There’s a whole genre of documentaries based on people’s obsessive fixation on seemingly pointless games. Be it the Okie’s who fish for gigantic catfish with their arms in “Okie Noodling” or the mega dorks pining for superiority of Donkey Kong in “King of Kong,” the realm of obsessive oddball sporting documentaries has grown over the years. Dan Lindsay’s “The Last Cup” falls into this category and it’s a worthy entry.
The film follows a group of people who are absolutely gaga over beer pong, the college frat game that has made it out of dorm room keg parties and into the real world. If you, like me, weren’t too familiar with beer pong, you’ll be an expert on the subject if you see this film. Apparently beer pong is big on the East Coast because as a West Coaster, we played a different variation. The “real” way the game is played is teams toss a ping-pong ball into various cups that are set-up in a pyramid shape at the end of a table. First person to clear the cups wins. While the game has more than it’s fair share of drunks, there’s also some people who play the game fairly sober and take it extremely seriously. While beer pong is a bar game akin to darts or shuffleboard, it also looks like a ton of fun and beer might not even be necessary. Then again, what’s not more fun with beer?
Jamie “The Champ” Clouser and Antonio “Tone” Vassiliatos are two type-A personalities who play the game to win. Clouser is the kind of guy who is finding his way in life and decides what he really wants to do is be a pro beer pong player. He creates a website in which he proclaims himself “The Champ” and takes on all challengers. Vassiliatos is one of those scary, bully jock types. He’s huge and intense and apparently has no neck. He also immediately sets himself up as the bad guy at the World Series of Beer Pong by talking s**t, ripping off his shirt and generally acting like a douche. He’s universally hated and seems to feed off the boos, jeers and middle fingers he gets while trying to compete. But docs like this need a kind of smug bad guy and Vassiliatos fits the bill.
We also need an underdog and there’s a few. The most interesting “loser” type is Scott “Iceman” Reck. You might think his nickname comes from either his cool way of beer ponging or from an unfortunate obsession with “Top Gun.” But we discover his nickname is much more practical as he’s the guy who fills the ice machine at a local college and people just starting going, “Heyyy…ice man.” As you can see, Lindsay gives us a wide variety of personalities to root for and against and they all converge on Mesquite, Nevada for the second annual World Series of Beer Pong.
Not to blow off “The Last Cup” or treat it lightly as it really is a fun and exciting film, but the only way a sports-oriented doc that culminates in some kind of showdown can fail is if the filmmakers choose the wrong competitors to focus on. Lindsay doesn’t and that’s because the guy has done his homework. He gives each viewer someone to relate to and then lets the camera roll as their personalities strangely dictate their performances in the series. And it should also be pointed out that this really is a sport growing in popularity. The prize for the World Series of Beer Pong topped out at $20,000 so it’s not like these guys are fighting for a case of Natty Light and a trophy. “The Last Cup” is a fun film that I hope finds it’s way to a theatrical or DVD release as I think crowds will eat it up. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about Beer Pong but were afraid (or too drunk) to ask.