To me, jump roping has always seemed like a really lame activity. I always thought that jump rope was just something that girls in grade school did to fill the time for recess (or a torture in gym class). After seeing the brilliant documentary “Jump!” by Helen Hood Scheer, however, I am ready to go buy a damn jump rope right this second and TiVo every single jump rope competition on ESPN.
“Jump!’ follows six teams from all over the country as they compete in different competitions with events like double dutch, single rope speed relay, and an assortment of freestyle sub categories. All of the competitors are interesting to watch since they all have as different of personalities as they do moves. Yet the one person that stands out the most is twelve year old Torrie from West Virginia who has won two Grand National trophies. Now the compelling thing about Torrie is that she has severe asthma that drives her to nearly pass out after every routine she performs. She displays a level of competition that is rarely seen in even professional athletes.
Other memorable jumpers would be Nick and Jeff from Texas who do some of the most amazing tricks in the documentary, some of which are so hard that they can only land them half of the time. One could argue whether they should even do such challenging tricks, yet they have the talent and they are both just so fun to watch that it doesn’t even matter what they will do, or whether they land their trick. It’s all golden.
The only true problem I had with this film had to be that the aforementioned jumpers, along with one other group (The Summerwind Skippers, from Idaho) really stand out and captivate, but the other groups aren’t quite as entertaining, making one wonder if the film could of been just as strong with only three groups instead of six.
Additionally, at a running time around a hundred minutes, the film feels a little long. At the point that the nationals are done, so is the audience. Yet the film chugs along to the world jump roping competition, which, yes, is interesting, but only a few of the original teams of the six are present at this point, thus, to me at least, it felt like the other groups that were followed weren’t even necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed all the character’s stories. I just didn’t understand why there was a need to follow six groups when it was obvious that a few of them were obviously much more interesting to the documentary. Yet the footage and how it was edited to go along with these interesting subjects made for a truly great experience. Even with the small problem stated above, I genuinely loved this documentary and I urge someone to pick up this damn film and get it distributed if it hasn’t already because this story deserves to be seen.
Never have I thought that jump roping would be a viable sport. Now the sport has my support entirely and if something as lame as cheerleading is considered a sport, jump rope deserves it even more so. It is funny how some of the most obscure subject matter can make for some truly enjoyable documentaries. Seek out this film and even the sport of competitive jump roping because both of them are much more enjoyable than you might imagine at first. Trust me, no one will question your interest after viewing this truly fun documentary.