By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Streetball- the inspiration for tons of World Star videos, the genus of many an NBA star, flash in the pan, or trick artist, and the dream of many a suburban white kid from the 90s.
Doin’ It in the Park makes the case for NYC pick-up streetball as much more than that- a cultural institution, a community linchpin, and fertile creative space for not only ballers but breakdancers and hip hop stars in the making.
The overwhelming attraction of this film, even more than its comprehensive survey of a scene where many of our pop culture and sports heroes sprung from, is the infectious energy of the film, and the exuberance of its interviewees. It’s hard not to get swept up as we learn about past playground greats, the genus of a playing style and the ankle-breaking moves which would transform the NBA in time, and the way that the basketball court provided a community center for communities which often didn’t exactly have many other options.
This doesn’t feel terribly accurate.
Directors Kevin Couliau and Bobbito Garcia do a spectacular job of getting interviews with just about everyone who is/was anyone in the past and current pick-up scene, showing its many facets and influences. Combined with heaps of stock footage and thrilling gameplay, viewers of any interest level in the topic will not be bored for a second.
The optimism and good vibes in the film smooth over some of the more negative aspects of the courts as a community center. How drugs, crime, and poverty claimed so many promising careers and singular talents off these courts, and how the courts themselves helped facilitate the first two, is only lightly touched upon, but necessary for the complete story of NYC pick-up basketball.
Doin’ It in the Park is an energetic, highly enjoyable portrait of a uniquely American cultural institution.
Take a Sip: for each shot drained
Take a Sip: for each pair of ankles broken
Take a Drink: for each legend of the court
Do a Shot: white dude’s got game!