Movie Review – “Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story”

Imagine tying your shoes with just one hand.  How about driving your car with only that hand?  Or doing just about everything else in your life with only your right-hand, when you were actually born left-handed?  It would be tough to even get close to just what life is like for a 6’ 9” high school basketball player named Kevin Laue, but the film about him, “Long Shot:  The Kevin Laue Story,” takes you there.  Like the famous, fictional sports hero named Rocky Balboa, the real-life Kevin Laue just wants to prove that he belongs in the game like the other guys.  To say that “Long Shot” is the “Rocky” of documentary films is no stretch of the imagination.  For Mr. Laue has a goal of playing Division I NCAA College Basketball, which is something that no one-armed person has ever done before.

Long Shot kevinjump_300 at Fork Union

Mr. Laue was born with only his right arm after his umbilical cord was wrapped around his left arm and neck in utero.  “Long Shot” captures the inspirational and determined story of a young man who overcame great odds before he was born and even greater odds later on in life.  The four-year journey that Director Franklin Martin takes audiences on may seem familiar to anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning “Hoop Dreams” or other college hoops films, but “Long Shot” is very unique.  Whereas most films are about star players trying to make it to college, then professional basketball… this film’s subject, Kevin Laue, is refreshing in that his goal to play big-time college basketball is modest but almost impossible.

There is a humility and sincerity in Mr. Laue and this film that will likely win over even the most cynical of sports fans or movie goers.  We see Mr. Laue as the goofy braces-wearing high school kid who doesn’t say much grow over time into the star player who misses the game-winning shot and then can’t stop apologizing for “failing” his team.  We also see a young man who must compete and continually reach deeper into himself to find the courage to plow on for another day and another practice.  Proving conventional thinking wrong has never looked so difficult, yet rewarding.  Mr. Laue wants to earn his way through basketball without sympathy or special accommodations and be treated the same as all the other players.  After watching this film, you may wonder why you’ve been slacking on just jogging around the block.

The film is a slow build, but draws the viewer in by letting the journey unfold itself.  There are no overplayed big scenes, even though there is plenty of drama as Mr. Laue must prove skeptics wrong time after time.  Some of the key interviews with figures from the basketball world, particularly UCLA Coach Ben Howland, help ground the film in reality and keep it from nearing “hero-worship.”  Seeing an array of talented high school basketball players do with two hands what Mr. Laue must do with one makes his on-screen efforts even more impressive.

There is a key story thread of Kevin’s relationship with his deceased father is important to Kevin and the film, but it ends up not be as important to the audience watching this film.  That is not a knock on Kevin, his father or the film itself, but the sheer skepticism (and some might say prejudice) over such a highly-talented hoopster playing at the big-time level with one-hand is what drives this film.  Kevin’s overcoming the odds and the emotional toll pursuing his dream takes on him is the hook.  In particular, the scenes of Kevin and the other players at the Fork Union Military Academy prep school are quite powerful and add much to the intensity of “Long Shot.”  Peering behind the NCAA basketball recruiting curtain and having Mr. Laue’s coach flatly say that college coaches are loathe to risk their jobs on a one-armed kid cuts through any romanticism one has about college athletics.  The dreamy business of college basketball sold to fans meets the reality of the ultimate March Madness Cinderella story and comes up wanting.  Seeing this contradiction in the film helps to make “Long Shot” a good one for non-sports fans as well as hoops-junkies.

George W. Bush, Kevin Laue

6′ 9″ Kevin Laue with
6′ 3″ President George W. Bush
Courtesy, Cinipix Films

There is a great scene in the film when Mr. Laue gets to meet President George W. Bush and no matter one’s political opinion, it is a joyful and heartwarming one to see.  It is also a perfect set-up for the rest of the film.  The film closes with an update on Mr. Laue’s life and an ending which will reward you for your ninety-three minutes.  The film is rated PG-13 and has some foul language and minor sexually-suggestive comments.  However, “Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story” is worth covering your kid’s ears in those few moments just for the inspiration the film will provide.  ***½  (3 ½ out of four Stars).

© 2013 The Willams View

Posted in: Entertainment, Reviews

About the Author:

Jennifer Williams is an accomplished writer, interviewer and critical reviewer having written about or covered many subjects of interests. Having graduated from Tulane University, La Salle University and New York University, Kevin's career background in Politics and Civic Affairs, Public Relations, Marketing, Non-Profit Management and Filmmaking have helped inspire much of her past artistic and creative efforts. Jennifer directed and co-produced the documentary feature film, Fear Of A Black Republican. Her latest film, Rebel Song, looks at a middle-aged American Celtic Rock band and the music inspired by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Rebel Song is expected to be released in 2014. In addition to The Williams View, Jennifer is also the Entertainment and Politics Editor for Politisite, a Contributing Writer for Townhall, Breitbart's Big Hollywood, Liberatchik and Hip Hop Republican. Jennifer has been interviewed or profiled across many Media outlets such as the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star, L.A. Weekly; Current TV, Christian Broadcasting Network, Huffington Post Live, Al Jazeera and BET News; radio programs ranging from National Public Radio, Voice of Russia - American Edition, the Mark Davis Radio Show, the Chris Stigall Show, the Steve Deace Show, the Bob Grant Show, Victoria Taft Show, to the Michael Eric Dyson Show and many others.

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