BALLS OF FURY — ** — Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, George Lopez; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, violence, profanity, slurs, brief drugs, brief sex); Century Sandy and South Salt Lake; Cinemark Jordan Landing; Red Carpet Gateway 8; Redwood Drive-in; Regency Trolley Square Mall

It's clear that "Balls of Fury" is trying to be dumb-funny, in the same manner as "Blades of Glory" and "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," among others.

But "Balls of Fury" — which comes from the creators of Comedy Central's "Reno 911!" — is much dumber than it is funny.

That's not to say it doesn't have a few laughs. But, unfortunately, most of them are of the guilty-laugh variety. And there's certainly nothing here to be considered comedy gold, or something that would earn more than cult status.

"Balls of Fury" spoofs the sport of table tennis, a k a Ping-Pong. Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler), once a promising table-tennis player, lost his shot after failing spectacularly at the 1988 Olympic Games. That failure still haunts Randy, who now spends his days performing Ping-Pong tricks in a Reno casino.

Then one day, FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez (George Lopez) shows up to ask for Randy's help in capturing the notorious Asian gang leader Feng (Christopher Walken). As fate would have it, Feng is also the man responsible for the death of Randy's father, so he agrees to help. But to do so, he'll have to win his way into Feng's underground, play-to-the-death Ping-Pong tournament.

Co-screenwriter/director Ben Garant's strength is clearly in the comedic realm. But he seems to be lost with regard to the film's martial-arts action scenes, most of which feature actress Maggie Q ("Live Free or Die Hard").

And the material definitely suffers because of Fogler's bland, oddly tentative performance. There are times when the Tony-winning actor is by far the least funny thing in the movie — especially when he's onscreen with the always-amusing Walken, who at least seems to be having some fun here.

"Balls of Fury" is rated PG-13 for crude sexual and bodily-function humor (sight gags and references); martial-arts, sports-related and some comic athletic violence (gunplay, violence against women and some explosive mayhem); scattered profanity, slurs based on race and nationality, drug content (asthma inhaler-use, poison darts), and a brief sex scene (overheard) and other sexual contact. Running time: 90 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com