Michael Jordan To The Max

2000, Movie, NR, 45 mins


What's the difference between documentary and hagiography? Directors James Stern and Don Kempf don't seem to have given the matter much thought; their IMAX "documentary" portrait of NBA great Michael Jordan has got to be a candidate for the title of biggest, wettest kiss of a picture ever made. This is in no way meant to disparage Jordan himself, a world-class basketball player with an admirable work ethic and, remarkably enough in this day of trash-talking and shameless diva behavior among professional athletes, a man who takes his position as role model to the young very seriously. The film, narrated by Laurence Fishburne, focuses on Jordan's last season with the Chicago Bulls, and fans will no doubt enjoy reliving highlights of those suspenseful games, during which Jordan ended his career on the high note of a sixth NBA title for his team. Some of the footage taken from the court is truly breathtaking; seeing Jordan's famous, apparently gravity-defying jump up-close and on an IMAX scale is an experience you can't get on TV. But it's not unreasonable to expect that a documentary, no matter how laudatory, might give viewers some information about the subject that they couldn't have gleaned from magazine covers and fawning post-game interviews, and this one doesn't. The filmmakers waste precious minutes that might have been used for almost anything else — remember, the film's only 45 minutes long — on Jordan's appearances in TV commercials (though, mercifully, not to his role in the lamentable SPACE JAM). And the original interviews with Jordan are less than enlightening. He's a master of inspirational sports-speak, but once you cut through the feel-good surface of his remarks about playing from the heart, giving your all and never, ever quitting, there's not much substantive food for thought. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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