This movie is so big, it can only be seen at IMAX theaters on a screen almost eight stories high. “Michæl Jordan to the Max” is a 45-minute documentary on the life of legendary Chicago Bulls basketball player who changed the game. The film focuses on Jordan’s final NBA season. Within the highs and lows of the season we learn what many already know about his life including his failed attempt to enter baseball and the tragic murder of his father. All in all, the movie ends up like one of those sports season videos they produce for your favorite team, so as a documentary, it fails. But that’s not what this is about. There is nothing more spectacular than seeing a sports legend this way. I was mesmerized by the awesome heroics Jordan displayed and seeing them on the giant IMAX screen gave me chills. I loved it.
I personally love IMAX movies, but I don’t go to see them for the story, I go for the spectacle and, on those terms, Michæl Jordan to the Max delivers big time!
But there is something that is really troubling me. Last week, esteemed film critic Roger Ebert lambasted “Michæl Jordan to the Max” on his show and gave it a thumbs down! A thumbs down? That takes huge balls considering Roger actually lives in Chicago and I respect that, but I totally disagree with his opinion. So, what I’m going to do is rebut Roger’s review that appeared in the Chicago Sun Times.
[ ROGER EBERT: ] ^ “As a documentary, the film plays like one of those packages NBC cobbles together before a semifinals round: game footage, talking heads and a narrator who intones the usual mantras about His Airness.”
[ CHRIS GORE RESPONDS: ] ^ Uh, Roger, if I want to see a great documentary, I can turn on the history channel or go to the Sundance film festival. I think you’re missing the point.
[ ROGER EBERT: ] ^ “That taste of real insight left me feeling empty after “Michæl Jordan to the Max,” with its platitudes and the same familiar sentences of praise we’ve heard so many times before, about how hard Jordan practiced, and how fierce was his desire to win, and what a leader he was.”
[ CHRIS GORE RESPONDS: ] ^ Left you empty? Roger, that is so cynical. You may have heard them before, but how about the kids who are hearing this for the first time?
[ ROGER EBERT: ] ^ “Jordan is a private man–so private that although he talks about his dead father in this film, there is no mention of his wife or his children. His mother is seen and heard, once; his wife is (I think) glimpsed briefly. I didn’t expect an intimate display of private matters, but in this film Jordan is a man who lives on the basketball court and evaporates otherwise, except when starring in commercials.”
[ CHRIS GORE RESPONDS: ] ^ You know what, that’s what I LIKED about the movie. Do we really need the intimate personal details of EVERY SINGLE PUBLIC FIGURE? Clinton’s affairs, Bush’s coke habit, Giuliani’s a*s cancer? C’mon?! Doesn’t Jordan deserve a private life? Would you be happier if he trotted his kids out and exploited them like Kathie Lee? I have kids myself and I respect the fact that Jordan saw fit to keep his family out of the limelight. He’s even more of a hero in my eyes!!! And uh, Roger, thanks for allowing me to voice another view.