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Netflix Review: Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot

March 10, 2009

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This documentary had a lot in its favor before I slipped it into my DVD player to watch it before Idol tonight. For one, I’m a sucker for sports documentaries like this so it would have taken a lot for this doc, produced and directed by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, to turn me off.  After a long day of work, full of the usual end-of-journalism hoopla with talk of layoffs, wage decreases and furloughs, I was in the mood to be distracted and boy was I.

While Yauch gets much of the limelight, the real star of this film in the soundtrack. Yauch masterfully uses a slew of modern hip hop hits (and even a Beastie Boys classic) to masterfully enhance every jump shot, block and dunk to something of a masterpiece, often cutting together the same play from multiple camera angles at multiple speeds.  The sound editing in this film is also nothing short of amazing. There are several moments in the film when all of the noise is cut except for the subtle thud of footsteps and the pounding of the ball on the ashpalt as a player moves down the court. 

As a basketball film, Yauch’s movie is incredibly entertaining. Where it starts to get a little dicey is when Yauch attempts to comment on the use of basketball as a vehicle for social advancement for some of the inner-city players and the incredible hype forced upon the incredibly young by the interage age, typified by a comment made in the film by someone that anyone with an internet service can have a recruit ranking website. The film that “Gunnin…” will most often be compared to is 1994’s Hoop Dreams, but its a much less effective social commentary, more style over Hoop Dreams’ incredible amounts of compelling substance.  Instead this movie feels like am more stylish version of 2001’s “Preps: Chicago Hoops,” a show on Fox Net that followed a handful of Chicago-area prepstars – including Eddy Curry and Duke guard Sean Dockery – through their senior year.

The ineffective social commentary aside, this film is stylish, funky and endlessly entertaining. A must-watch for the avid or even casual basketball fan.

Grade: A solid B+

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