Playground (1990)

Not Rated   |  Video   |    |  Documentary, Short


Playground (1990) Poster

This made-for-video production mixes highlights of Michael Jordan from the '80s with a fantasy storyline of a high school teen named Walt, who has been cut from his basketball team. ... See full summary »


7.4/10
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16 March 2008 | bob the moo
The clips barely save it from the wooden corporate delivery that is as painful as it is "worthy"
In a situation that has echoes of Michael Jordan's experience in high school, young Walt finds that he doesn't make the cut when the basketball lineup for the season is announced. His coach's words of wisdom about trying harder and using the rejection as a motivator to improve is greeted with cynicism and Walt goes away disheartened. Half-heartedly shooting in the playground, Walt is considering the point of it whenever an unexpected shooting partner turns up with some words of wisdom and challenges of his own for Walt.

Unlike the accepted wisdom that there really isn't a safer pair of hands than Jordan, the NBA seemed to be confused about how to really use the inspiration figurehead that they suddenly had on their hands. Faced with hours of clips and footage the quandary seemed to be how best to utilise it. This "problem" must have been handed to the NBA marketing department, a team more used to do corporate videos, because I cannot think of any other reason for yet another Jordan film that puts clips and "talking head" contributions together with all the heart and imagination of one of those "hi, I'm Bob Jones, CEO of etc etc" films that employees of blue chip companies have to suffer though before smiling and saying what a great use of £100k it was.

So here we have the collection of game clips framed with a series of "dramatic" sequences where Jordan delivers wisdom to a "youth" in need of a lesson. Starting with the dramatic sequences it perhaps goes without saying that they are rubbish and contain about as much wood as your average court floor. It is so unnatural and unconvincing that I found it quite painful even though I could see that it was "worthy" and that it was a genuine effort to harness the life-lessons within his career. Fortunately the film has its fair share of clips that demonstrate the determination and inspiration that the dramatic scenes allude to. These are rarely less than sensational and they make the film well worth seeing for all basketball fans. The talking-heads sort of fall in the middle somewhere in regards quality as mostly they are genuine and interesting but occasionally do have the air of pre-prepared marketing speak that has been put on an autocue for the players to read. The musical number at the end is also pretty awful.

Overall then a worthy enough attempt to tell a story but just a shame that it is all so wooden, sanitised and "corporate" with terrible direction from Snyder. The game action and some of the contributions make it watchable but it is unavoidable that much of the film feels like those rubbish "motivation" posters of eagles etc that you find in gyms and boardroom walls.

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Documentary | Short

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