You ever see the movie The Scout? I’ll summarize it for you: Albert Brooks plays a major league baseball scout who discovers immaculately-named phenom Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser) playing in a tiny rural town in Mexico. Nebraska has a 100+ mph fastball and the ability to hit moonshot home runs seemingly on demand. Brooks’s character, Al Percolo, brings him to the United States, where his talent wows everyone but he faces issues related to his new fame and being a fish out of water. He eventually overcomes all of that to help his team win The Big Game, and Al learns some lessons about friendship and What Is Really Important in the process. The End.
Okay, now replace Brendan Fraser with a 600 lb. dinger-smashing Chinese circus gorilla named Ling Ling. That’s basically the plot of the 2013 Korean movie Mr. Go. Mr. Go is a good movie.
I’m sure you have a few questions. Please, fire away.
A DINGER-SMASHING CIRCUS GORILLA?
Yup, you read that right. Ling Ling and his 15-year-old trainer Wei Wei work for Wei Wei’s baseball-loving grandfather at China’s Ronhua Circus. Through a process that is never really explained, Ling Ling is taught how to understand language and smash pitched baseballs. It’s best to just go with it. Unfortunately, Ling Ling’s grandfather — who is repeatedly referred to as “a crazy old fart” in the English subtitles, possibly because his business plan involved bringing in a second gorilla (who turns out to be evil!) to pitch to Ling Ling — dies in an earthquake about five minutes into the movie. And he had a mountain of gambling debt at the time of his death, so Wei Wei is forced to take the show on the road to try to pay off some shady loan sharks and follow her dream of opening her own circus called Circus of the Sun.
Enter a super-agent named Sung, whose nickname is “The Bounty Hunter,” and who is infamous for taking popular players from Asia and selling them off to American teams. He proposes that Ling Ling sign a contract with a Korean baseball team called the Doosan Bears..
Are gorillas even allowed to play professional baseball?
Excellent question. The answer is yes, apparently, as we find out during some sort of sports roundtable show that starts with the host saying “It doesn’t say anywhere that a baseball team has to be made up of nine humans” and features the agent saying “Man is his own worst enemy. A trained animal is much safer than an irrational man.”
So is this where Ling Ling starts hitting home runs?
Boy howdy, is it ever. After Ling Ling — whose name has now been changed to Mr. Go, because this movie is goddamn incredible — smashes a pitch off the Jumbotron 450 feet away in his first at bat, we get a four-minute dinger montage set to, not joking, “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits. There are showboating no-look dingers…
… and dingers where he golfs the ball into the cosmos after the pitcher tries to walk him by rolling the ball to home plate…
… and dingers where he backhands the ball into the left field stands when the pitcher tries to throw behind him.