ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Ali: The Mission, Disdain the Mundane (2013)

Ali: The Mission

Directed by Amani Martin

The ESPN 30 for 30 continues its string of strong efforts in the form of shorts posted on the series’ executive producers’ sight, This is the fifth such short, with a few of them being quite strong. During the time of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait around 1990, without the consent of the United States government, Muhammad Ali went on a diplomatic mission to meet with Saddam Hussein in an effort to get American hostages released. It is a strong effort here from Amani Martin, as he details the selfless act committed by the Champ. Ali is a great character not only in American sports history, but American history itself. He even featured prominantly in one of the best of the original 30 for 30 films, Muhammad & Larry. As a short, Ali: The Mission packs a short punch, a jab if you will. But it does suffer from being just 13 minutes long, and from the unsure narration from John Legend. Ali’s electric magnetism is enough to entertain for the short length.

**1/2 – Average


Disdain the Mundane

Directed by Nelson George

Nelson George returns to the series after having delivered the strong and affecting The Announcement, which chronicled the famous moment when Magic Johnson announced to the world that he was HIV positive. He sticks to the world of lengendary basketball players with Walt “Clyde” Frazier, but the topic is much lighter than we saw before. George shows us the eccentric Frazier and his penchant for bizarro style and fashion. The film is really pointless from start to finish, to the point that it doesn’t even feel like it deserves to be included with everything else that has been produced as part of the 30 for 30 series. It breezes by in a mere 5 minutes, and a minute longer would have been far too much. It is a fun, albeit brief, look into the enigma that seems to be Frazier. If I was a Knicks fan, or even if I lived in New York, I may have been able to appreciate it a little more, but as it stands, I got in, and quickly got out, and for that I am grateful. Good for perhaps a smile or even a chuckle if you happen to have the five minutes to spare, perhaps at the end of you lunch break. But don’t make the mistake of expecting anything more.

** – Fair

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