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No basketball fan - or, for that matter, Los Angeles Lakers fan - should be caught dead without watching Spike Lee's Kobe Doin' Work. They won't only enjoy the film for its inclusion of slickly shot and edited basketball footage but will crave and embrace the commentary of the Lakers' star athlete Kobe Bryant, as he recalls tense moments of the game, interactions with teammates and opposing players, and certain motivations as he runs up and down the court.
This documentary has the ability to captivate die-hard basketball and Lakers fans, but I question how it will hold up for the moderately curious viewers, like myself, who were halfway expecting a documentary concerning Kobe off the court and a day-in-the-life scenario. Almost anyone could turn on a TV, walk into a local bar (if people still do that anymore), or pull up on their phone a Lakers game and see Kobe in action. The first issue with Lee's Kobe Doin' Work is it gives us something we could already see and misses the golden opportunity of giving us something we otherwise couldn't.
The film's selling point is the fact that Bryant himself recorded a commentary track for the game we're watching, which is against the world champion San Antonio Spurs on April 13, 2008. Lee tells us in a two-minute opening scene that Kobe permitted thirty cameras to capture his moves on screen and then proceed to record an engaging commentary about everything that occurred in that game. Lee seems so fascinated with Kobe when speaking about how he went about making this documentary and hanging out with Kobe, smitten by his kindness and his passion for the game. One wonders if anybody bothered to ask Lee would he act surprisingly out of the norm or in any other way except for positive if he had thirty cameras watching him and a documentary about to premiere on a huge network. While the access is pretty grand and the commentary is rather unique, one wonders how much of it is fabricated for the camera and if Kobe's thoughts are still fighting to get out, but are repressed thanks to better judgment on his behalf.
What we have left to rely on is eighty-nine minutes of some fairly solid basketball footage, captured at multiple different angles and edited together with the unsurprising crispness I've come to expect with Spike Lee's documentary joints, especially after watching his most recent, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. But crisp editing and slick footage fades when you realize what's being edited together and slickly captured is of little interest to you as a whole. Kobe Doin' Work did nothing for me in the long run, and will surely be forgotten in passing days. Despite considerable efforts by Spike Lee to make this film broadly appealing, I can't help but feel this was a rejected idea for one of those brilliant ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries that Lee went along and made anyways.
Directed by: Spike Lee.
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