Released: 11th April
Seen: 22nd November (Lift Off Film Festival)
So, I’m not anything close to a sports guy. I don’t get them, I don’t understand them and I have just never enjoyed them. I don’t watch or play them, they do nothing for me. You ask me about Pooh, I’ll start talking about a little yellow bear who is all stuffed with fluff but if you ask a basketball fan about Pooh, they’ll start talking about a man named Derrick Rose who was a rising basketball star that signed on to the Chicago Bulls in 2008 where he was destined for greatness, being the youngest person to win the MVP award and a whole bunch of other sports titles that I do not understand… and then he tore his ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament) and all hell broke loose. Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story charts all of it, from Derrick’s days in Chicago learning to play through to today and it is a shocking tale, to say the least.
The great thing about this film is that it takes it’s time to let you get to know Derrick, handy for those of us who don’t know a damn thing about the man or his sport. It shows his love of the game, makes it as clear as possible why he’s considered one of the greatest players and isn’t afraid to take it’s time to explain why some things are a big deal. I, for example, didn’t get why being picked first is a big deal (is it obvious I was picked last for every game I was ever forced to play?) but this film makes sure that even non-basketball fans can keep up and I genuinely appreciated that. We slowly watch him going from strength to strength and the film gets the audience rooting for Derrick and holds off till everyone is good and settled in before the first injury happens.
The bulk of this film is about the way that fans reacted when Derrick suffered 2 serious injuries that caused him to miss several games. Their reaction was… stupid, it was very stupid. Look, I get that sports fans are a particularly obsessive bunch, I get that. I too have my obsessions but this film makes it clear that while Derrick was working hard on rehabilitating his torn ACL and then an injured meniscus, the people around him were just slowly tearing him down. You get a sense that everyone was being a real jerk about this because… the man seriously injured himself playing a sport to entertain people. The vitriol thrown his way is horrific, and the film doesn’t shy away from it. It not only shows his teammates reactions but newscasters and even Derrick’s friends. The interviews with Derrick about this period show that it hurt him that his home town would treat him like this.
I am thankful this film was there when he got traded to the Knicks, actually capturing the exact moment that Derrick got the call and his emotional breakdown is one of the most powerful moments of a film loaded with powerful moments. If you already know the story of Derrick’s life, seeing it from Derrick’s POV is an absolute must. While he’s known for not being great with an interview, the filmmakers here seemed to have found a way to get him to open up and there’s a genuine passion that’s visible every time he gets a chance to talk about the sport that he loves.
Now, that’s not to say everything is all joy and laughter. I do kind of wish they hadn’t just skimmed over several things, I understand that it’s a 103 minute film about sports and you probably don’t want to drag it on any more but… well, right near the end they literally have text saying he got accused of rape and went to trial and got acquitted and maybe it’d be a good idea to spend more than 30 seconds on that? Like, he was found not guilty and everything, maybe go into a touch more detail than just a little bit of text because that just felt like a curveball. There’s also a tiny bit in there about him having a kid, maybe more time on that? Basically, spend more time in fleshing out these little tidbits of major information so that it doesn’t feel unfinished and if you’re not going to flesh them out, don’t bring them up.
Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story is still a really good documentary with a lot of charm. It does exactly what it needed to do, let people see the real potential greatness of Derrick Rose and makes it accessible to everyone. With enough visual flair that makes it easy on the eyes, this is a documentary that works well and can be enjoyed by anyone with even a passing interest… even if it could stand to expand on a few things here or there.