Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Review: Unguarded - ESPN documentary

At the ESPN studios....

Douche One: "You know, The Fighter was a great flick. Why the hell didn't we do a 30 for 30 on Gatti-Ward, what the fuck can we do like that but not close enough to be called a rip off?"

Douche Two: "What about a documentary on Stephon Marbury? Just like Mickey Ward, he's a poor kid who had a skill, loved by NYC since a high school frosh who came back to play for the Knicks but flamed out. Like Ward, he had a bro 'make it' ahead of him but not get to the top, so the whole family needs him to make it. His ne'er-do-well friends were a major source of his problems. He's had tons of problems and is a poster child for the modern NBA damaged millionaire. It's the NBA, and since we own it, the NBA will give us game film to use!"

Bill Simmons: "I hate Starbury. He's also not gritty like Ward. Can't put my fingah on it, but he's not smaht enough to interview. Hey, how about this little known Celtic who was from Mass who had problems named Chris Herren! He's a Mass boy with problems who tried to do good. Let's do it!'

Unguarded is what you watch when you splice The Fighter with any promising basketball phenom who has trouble once they move up a level and are surrounded by the perks. This documentary is painfully cliche. If you remember '90s college basketball, you remember Herren. Specifically, you can recall his time at Fresno St. with Jerry Tarkanian, when the Shark tried to build a program with the Bulldogs. Herren was one of his reclamation projects. Herren's story of use and abuse seems to be in line with many other players in professional sports. Pretty sure that the documentary was made not because Simmons wanted a white Celtic as the spotlight, but that Herren and Bill Reynolds wrote a memoir about Herren's career the same year the documentary was made. It's not worth your time. Watch The Fighter instead. Same dysfunction, but better packaging and production.

I watched this with a former addict. My friend said, "He won't make it". This is knowing that Herren has been clean for three years. My friend's reasoning was that Herren has a controlled, focused tone in every conversation, as if he is repeating his lessons from rehab sessions. Herren's entire life is centered around his former addiction through the book, the counseling and the motivational speaking. That is a pessimistic look at it, but optimistic in the sense that a person can leave that period of addiction completely behind them. Any addict is going to have to battle their addiction, urges, impulses and demons for the rest of their lives. When does a recovering alcoholic or drug addict make it?

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