Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a documentary that showcases the importance of finding kindred spirits. While it takes detours along the way, it is still a wonderfully heartwarming film.
Unimposing to the average Joe, Kim Cannon Arm is a silent hero within the retro arcade-gaming world and especially within the constant bells and bright lights of Copenhagen’s Bip Bip Bar. With the hand-eye coordination of an athlete and sporting a very distinguished mullet, Kim is renowned for playing the 1980s arcade game Gyruss for 49 hours straight with just one coin. This time, he and the gang of friends who support each other through thick and thin aim to smash his previous record and play for 100 hours straight.
Documentaries about arcade games and the challenges that people do with them are not new to us, yet none will be as life-affirming as what Mads Hedegaard presents here. Yes, we follow Kim go through the trials and tribulations of his challenge; at the heart of Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is how people who should never find each other do in the most wonderful of ways. This group of misfits are as likeable and relatable as they are weird.
Hedegaard takes his time with the group, and we really get to know them and their relationship with Kim. Smartly he intersperses these moments by them showing their concern for what Kim must do. They make sure he takes medical checks and have intricate spreadsheets to work out when he can rest, thanks to recording what he did on previous attempts. There is so much care here that you sense the bond they all have together.
Emotion comes to the fore as we find out more about this connection and delve deeper into this kinship. As the group prepare, there is a touching moment where they go to the grave of a friend who passed away all too early from apparent mental illness issues. Yet, the importance of the whole and not the individual never leaves the documentary. You sense that Hedegaard wants to make sure that his film is a tribute to those who find people who have a similar affinity. It doesn’t matter what they connect with; it could be something academic, philosophical or something as simple as arcade games. It doesn’t matter, does it? Finding friends can be so hard, so who cares how they get there.
There are moments where Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest wavers from what was so successful, but it always remains charming. We have random tangents from the narrator that take us away from the core group that halts the flow. What makes the documentary work so well is the team’s connection, so to venture off from that and their love of games and their friendship doesn’t work as well as intended. However, as said, the sheer charm of it all carries us through those moments.
By the time we get to that final act of Kim making his attempt, you are thoroughly hooked and are willing him to get to that 100-hour mark. Here, like the majority of the documentary, it takes its time; sure, we get some quick edits as Kim cuts through the early hours like it is nothing. But when we see all of the crew’s preparation come to fruition after the 20-hour mark, we realise why everyone had to be so prepared.
Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is the type of documentary you need once in a while; it comes in with so much wholesomeness that you can’t help but smile when watching it. Could it be a bit shorter? Sure, but that’s fine; we find ourselves all in with this group and with Kim’s attempt. So much works here, from the dynamic to the shot choices, also; who doesn’t love the idea of enjoying AC/DC while playing an arcade game? This is a documentary, much like the fantastic Alien on Stage, that will leave you grinning away.
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