Chang Can Dunk has a heart but is lacking in the script.

Chang, a 16-year-old Asian American high school student in band, bets the school basketball star that he can dunk by homecoming. But before he can rise up, he’ll have to reexamine everything he knows about himself, his friendships and his family.

Why does anyone care if Chang can or cannot dunk? Jokes aside I was definitely expecting the worst with Chang Can Dunk, in some ways it’s a bit better than I thought and in others well it’s exactly what I expected it to be. 

The performances are fine enough, particularly Bloom Li who’s given a script that is on the level of a bad Disney Channel Original Movie. He does what he can with it and I definitely respect him for that, Dexter Darden is decently fun as well and I actually liked Zoe Renee despite her ultimately just being the love interest and that’s it. It’s definitely one of the better made Disney+ movies, it goes for this bigger in scale type of feel which I will admit is kind of surprising to see from this sort of movie. 

Unfortunately just about everything else is either terrible or falls into the forgettable category, the writing as I said earlier is not that much different from a Disney Channel movie it’s just a bit more mature with it’s tone and that’s pretty much it, the movie is very predictable to the point where you can guess what is going to happen within the first 10 minutes. The movie attempts to go for a coming of age sort of feel which doesn’t work nearly as well as they thought it did, which again comes down to the writing. 

We aren’t given a whole lot of character moments with any of the characters even with Chang himself, we are given very surface level information that a lot of these Disney+ movies tend to give and then the movie decides to move on to the next scene. Part of what makes a good coming of age movie is character development and character moments, where we learn about the character, how they feel, what their goals are, who they are as a person and much more. 

I can definitely respect that Chang Can Dunk at the very least attempted to try and be a coming of age movie (something you really done often see in modern Disney movies) but it doesn’t do it well here unfortunately, I definitely think with a much more focused and better written script there could have been something really great here. 

Chang Can Dunk is available on Disney+

4/10 D+


Champions is a sports comedy that exists.

A former minor-league basketball coach receives a court order to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities. Despite his doubts, he soon realizes that together they can go further than they ever imagined.

The Regal Mystery Movie was Champions and well it definitely does exist. Champions is actually a remake of a 2018 Spanish movie of the same name. 

I’ll start by saying that I am very happy to see disabled actors on screen especially with a huge studios behind the movie (Gold Circle Entertainment as the production company, Focus Features for the United States distribution and Universal Pictures for the International distribution.) there were a few standouts such as Joshua Felder, James Day Keith and Kevin Iannucci who really gave such strong performances as well as touching ones as well. All the disabled actors did such a fantastic job and brought a huge amount of heart. 

The rest of the movie unfortunately is very frustrating, while Woody Harrelson is great, Kaitlin Olson does well with the script she’s given and Ernie Hudson is a nice addition to the supporting cast. A lot of the movie boils down to yet another inspirational sports comedy, it has the exact same elements as you would expect and really doesn’t do anything different. It’s incredibly predictable and becomes a bit tiring very quickly. 

Champions also did not need to be 2 hours and 4 minutes long, you could have easily cut at least 15-20 minutes of the movie and it would not have changed a single thing at all, perhaps the biggest frustration comes from the movie looking like it was actually going to talk about ableism but quickly moves on from it and doesn’t bother to touch the topic, there is a scene where Benny’s boss at a restaurant treats him like garbage because of who he is, It’s a shame that was glossed over within seconds. 

Overall Champions does not have a whole lot to it, I’m sure there will be people who will enjoy it as a little inspirational sports comedy or even a feel good movie. But if you are looking for anything more you won’t get it here. 

Champions releases in theaters March 10th

5/10 C

Quick Reviews: Rise and Trevor The Musical!

After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, the Antetokounmpos struggle to care for their five children. The brothers play basketball with a local team and discover their great abilities on the court.

There really isn’t a whole lot to Rise, it’s a very decent sports drama film that really doesn’t do anything new. It has a very TV movie like feel to it but luckily that doesn’t take away from the acting which is genuinely pretty decent. Rise does a decent job at telling of NBA’s Giannis Antetokounmpo who is played by Uche Agada, Agada does a solid job in the role and brings a lot of powerful moments to it which is always welcome. Writing wise there are some strong moments but at times the script puts the movie at a complete halt that does hurt the movie in the long run, if you are a fan of sports drama movies you will most likely like this one. Just don’t go in expecting anything groundbreaking.

Rise is available on Disney+

6/10 C+

After an embarrassing incident at school, Trevor, a charming 13-year-old, must summon the courage to forge his own path on a turbulent journey of self-discovery to uncover what it means to be a queer teenager.

Not much to say here Trevor The Musical is another one of those stage adaption films. It’s based on the 1994 short film Trevor, about a young boy who is a huge fan of Diana Ross and has a crush on his schoolmate Pinky Faraday. For what Trevor The Musical is it’s not bad at all, there’s some decent acting here plus Holden Hagelberger and the rest of the cast are very lovable. The major flaw that does hold this one back is mostly some of the songs, the Diana Ross songs are done quite well it’s the other songs that aren’t done very well. Hagelberger is a fun actor and dancer but his singing voice is not always great, in the more emotional moments it’s a bit better luckily. I definitely think this movie is going to appeal to kids and teens a lot more which is definitely not a bad thing, as the movie is harmless and has an overall solid message.

Trevor The Musical is available on Disney+

6/10 C+

Hustle is a love letter to Basketball!

After a down-on-his-luck basketball scout discovers an extraordinary player abroad, he brings the phenom back without his team’s approval.

Hustle is a huge surprise, I was ready for it to be another generic sports drama that would be forgettable almost immediately after watching. While Hustle does follow certain familiar beats from other movies of the genre, it’s the attention to detail and the overall craft that makes this one standout. First off Adam Sandler’s performance is quite fantastic, he plays an NBA scout who discovers a fantastic player who is played by Juancho Hernangómez who is actually an NBA player in fact the film is filled with NBA players! Giving the film a more raw approach and making this sort of a celebration to basketball fans, Sandler and Hernangómez’s chemistry is quite fantastic here and really gives the film more power and a very grounded approach. The same can be said with the writing, it’s such a raw and beautiful approach that captures several interesting moments between the players and Sandler’s discussions. There’s tons of heartfelt moments that you can’t help but love, sure the outcome is predictable but the film is incredibly well crafted and Sandler’s performance invests you into the film. Overall Hustle is a very solid sports drama that even if you aren’t a fan of basketball I still highly recommend checking this one out!

Hustle is available on Netflix!

8/10 B+

Home Team fails to score big.

Two years after NFL head coach Sean Payton is suspended, he goes back to his hometown and finds himself reconnecting with his 12-year-old son by coaching his Pop Warner football team.

You know those movies where after you watch them you feel absolutely nothing? That’s how I feel about Home Team, granted it’s not one of the absolute worst of Happy Madison Productions. However the real story behind Sean Payton and Bountygate is far more interesting than this movie, the movie focuses on Payton coaching his 12 year son’s football team after getting suspended from the NFL. So I feel this is a complete missed opportunity, what follows is terrible humor, terrible acting from pretty much everyone besides Kevin James who seems to just enjoy doing these roles at this point and surprisingly Taylor Lautner. I’m not saying he gave anything special at all but when you compare him to everyone else you notice a difference. There’s this one scene where they actually have CGI vomit which is definitely a choice. The movie’s main issue is the tone being for inconsistent, it wants to tell a sports drama type of story but immediately cracks so many unfunny jokes. There are a few heartfelt moments that actually work quite well, but a lot of the time your restricted to very unfunny jokes with terrible dialogue. Home Team is overall just a terrible sports comedy that really adds nothing new.

Home Team is available on Netflix

3/10 D-

Bruised is unfortunately not a knockout.

Jackie Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter who has failed at the one thing she’s ever been good at – fighting. When 6-year-old Manny, the son she walked out on years ago, returns to her doorstep, Jackie has to conquer her own demons.

Bruised is a film that I really wanted to like badly, because there is a lot to like about Bruised. Such as the action scenes especially the fight during the climax, they are captured in such a raw and powerful style where it actually feels like you are there in person watching the fight. Halle Berry also gives a fantastic performance, her performance is filled to the brim with emotions and strength which makes the performance all the more interesting and investing. The problems however stick out like a sore thumb, the film is unfortunately very formulaic if you have seen other wrestling films like Southpaw in the past you will have a pretty good idea of what’s going to end up happening in Bruised. I do want to say being formulaic isn’t always a terrible thing, it’s just a matter of doing something interesting and making sure the positives outweigh the negatives. Bruised however is not so lucky as there’s also the running time which feels much too long. There’s a lot that could have been cut or shortened to give the movie more of a focus, the writing is very stuffed it feels like the writers wanted to go with something meaningful at times and at other times it feels like they wanted to do something traditional with not much substance. The strongest moments are definitely during the last portion of the movie as it does have some admittedly powerful scenes that wrap up the movie nicely. Overall Bruised is very surface level, it has a great performance from Halle Berry but that isn’t enough to save Bruised from being very forgettable and disappointing.

Bruised is available on Netflix!

4/10 D+

King Richard is an inspiring film about making your vision a reality!

Armed with a clear vision and a brazen, 78-page plan, Richard Williams is determined to write his two daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on tennis courts in Compton, Calif., Richard shapes the girls’ unyielding commitment and keen intuition. Together, the Williams family defies seemingly insurmountable odds and the prevailing expectations laid before them.

King Richard is a biopic of Serena Williams and Venus Williams father Richard Williams, it shows how determined Richard was to make his vision a reality wanting Serena and Venus to succeed. Will Smith does a fantastic job as Richard Williams, he captures his soul and his mannerisms as well. It’s easily the best performance Will Smith has done in quite awhile it really brings the type of performance that I and so many other people have wanted to see from in quite some time. Will Smith not only captures Richard’s mannerisms but he also captures how much Richard wanted his vision to come true, how much he really wanted to reach that goal. The rest of the cast were quite fantastic Jon Bernthal, Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney and Aunjanue Ellis all do a really strong job in their roles! The writing is much better than expected, there are some incredibly powerful moments (such as the kitchen scene) that really drag you into the mind of Richard Williams. It makes you understand how much it means to him, which makes the build up for the end all the more powerful. Overall King Richard can feel like a formulaic biopic at times however those moments aren’t enough to stop it from being a really interesting film that goes beyond from being just a biopic film. It’s a film that showcases how someone was determined to make their vision a reality and would never give up until it did come true!!

King Richard is in theaters and on HBO Max!

8/10 B+

Safety (2020)

The story of Ray-Ray McElrathbey, a freshman football player for Clemson University, who secretly raised his younger brother on campus after his home life became too unsteady.

Safety is another one of those inspirational stories that really don’t have anything new to bring to the table, the true story itself is very inspiring and I definitely recommend looking up the actual story. The movie however at times feels like a huge chore to sit through it’s 122 minutes long which it honestly did not need to be. Jay Reeves and the rest of the cast do a fine enough job given that the script they got was nothing really too special. A lot of the film just felt way too safe (no pun intended) it was your basic inspirational movie cliches that any viewer can easily recognize. There are some genuine heartfelt moments that do work pretty well, but those take a lot of patience to get to, with that said the movie definitely isn’t bad. It’s just a movie that I don’t think I’ll ever watch again, it’s one of those Disney+ movies that could have easily been a Disney channel original but they decided to put it on Disney+. If it sounds like your type of movie check it out, otherwise don’t rush to watch it.

6/10 C+