Friday, December 17, 2010

Gunnin' For That #1 Spot

Directed by Adam Yauch.
2008. Rated PG-13, 90 minutes.
Michael Beasley
Brandon Jennings
Kyle Singler
Jerryd Bayless
Kevin Love
Tyreke Evans
Donte Greene
Lance Stephenson
Bobbito Garcia

In September of 2006, the mecca of streetball, otherwise known as New York City's Rucker Park, puts on it's first ever "Elite 24" game. This is a game involving 24 of the highest ranked high school basketball players in the nation. This documentary focuses on eight of the players, a number of whom have already moved on to the NBA. Director Adam Yauch, of Beastie Boys fame, has chosen his subjects wisely. They're from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of personalities. The first two thirds of the movie does a nice job showcasing this. We also get some insight into how the sometimes shady people who run recruiting websites work and how the often shadier agents and shoe companies try to hook these kids young. There's even a nice pre-game speech given by then New Jersey Nets head coach Lawrence Frank. I highly suggest watching the full length version of the speech, found among the special features on disc 2, especially if you're an aspiring ball player. On the court, we get the sort of high energy and acrobatic game, enhanced by the never-silent courtside MC Bobbito Garcia, that we've come to expect from Rucker Park events. Though, admittedly this isn't the constant trickeration of an And 1 tape. Still, many of the plays are amplified by terrifically done sound effects and the soundtrack is a lively mostly hip hop affair (lots of Jay Z, by the way). The unquestioned star is current Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley. From what we see, he appears to have been the best player on the court that day but that's not what makes him the star. What does it is his big-time, motor-mouth driven personality. With good reason, he was mic'd for the game. He talks and talks and talks. Then he talks some more. Most of it is pure basketball smack. However, we still like him because he comes off similarly to NFL wide receiver/showman Chad Ochocinco. Even when Beasley is saying something harsh, you get the sense that it's all in fun. As proof, in this machismo charged atmosphere no one seems to even bat an eye over his more venomous barbs. There does seem to be a little mano y mano between him and current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love. Still, even as they try to stare each other down they both appear on the verge of uncontrollable laughter. All said, we have a solid basketball documentary. It's not emotionally charged like Hoop Dreams but it's an excellent watch for b-ball fans. Look for current Cleveland Cavalier J. J. Hickson and Kansas star Cole Aldrich, who are two of the players not chronicled. There are also brief appearances in the crowd and after the game by Jason Kidd, Ben Gordon and Steve Nash. If you're not into basketball, don't bother.

MY SCORE: 7.5/10

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