This is a colossal waste of a good premise. Anyone familiar with ESPN’s 30 For 30 series (which is still producing content outside of the original confines of making 30 documentaries for the channel’s 30th anniversary) knows it can be pretty hit or miss. The hits, however, yield truly glorious stuff like Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks or the downright experimental June 17, 1994*.
This spoof, produced by Yahoo! falls into the “miss” category. It’s a 30 For 30 about Space Jam with no other (functioning) jokes beyond that initial idea. And I can’t embed it, which is only making me hate it more. Please watch it (or not) and meet me at the next paragraph.
Terrible, right? More than the mugging from “Bob Gargano,” the biggest problem is that this could be any generic sports documentary. Nothing makes it distinctly “30 For 30” other than the graphic at the beginning of the video. This should actually be used as a case study for why matching a particular style matters. How many movies have been ruined (maybe not “ruined”, but…) by fake looking newscasts where the cadence of the anchors is unlike anything you’ve seen on TV? For that matter, how often are those newscasts shot in the same, flat HD stock as the rest of the movie?
Is that nitpicking? Maybe it is, but this stuff should matter, especially if the point (maybe the only point) is to make your thing look like their thing. Make no mistake, this is the same issue as having a dead-eyed Tom Hanks-surrogate as the star of your movie. The uncanny valley applies to film grammar, cinematography, acting, lighting, etc. You name it. If you’ve ever hated something in a movie and couldn’t quite put your finger on why, it’s probably because someone wasn’t paying attention to the details.
Aside from that, recapping bad jokes from Space Jam? That’s all you’ve got?
To see how this sort of thing is done well, here are The Birthday Boys nailing everything about documentary trailers for stuff like Dog Town and Z-Boys. And it’s funny.
*June 17, 1994 doesn’t include traditional talking head interviews at all and relies almost entirely on original news footage, artfully arranged to raise tension while linking disparate stories that all occurred on the same day. It’s like an interesting Koyaanisqatsi and you should watch it now.