Chang Can Dunk
Drama / Family / Sport.
16-year-old Asian-American, Chang, is an unpopular high schooler who loves basketball, but is always underestimated. Though his peers treat him as though he is insignificant, he becomes obsessed with learning how to slam dunk hoops with the ball. In doing so, Chang is determined to best the high school’s all-star named Matt, all while hopefully winning the adoration of his romantic interest, Kristy.
Dunking Done Right
-Our performers actually made characters that were realistic, approachable, fun, and yet real, with only going into in your face when the script called for it.
-Dexter Darden gets a shout out for being my favorite character, the modern day coach who has this great approach to things and really bridges everyone together keeping the movie balanced. A lynch pin holding much together, he was the part of the movie I enjoyed the most -Renee is good in her role, strong, fair, engaging, and dare I say just a great character that acts not just as a goal, but an engaging character mode. She’s got sass, vulnerability, and yet compassion that makes for a strong character.
-Ben Wang is more of the comedic relief, but not in the stumbling boob, gigantic joke that these roles can take on. He’s again realistic, fun, great timing, but also holds more past the jokes in his goal to make this quest for identity better.
-As for Li, he’s got the most extremes of character, which is kind of the point, but outside of trying to be overly cool, it works with the symphony of feelings that play out in this journey.
-There is hurt, questions being asked, but also recognition and heart, and to do that in such a young age, again for Disney in the modern era, tough to achieve, but he did it.
-And the chemistry works very well, a believable relationship built between these people that throws so much story in it instead of the political topics being the center.
Pacing -The movie may not be the most exciting at times, as expected of a coming of age tale, but it does work and still move to be engaging.
-Chang’s journey has the fun moments, the no so fun moments, and the balanced moments that all work themselves into an order that remained intriguing to me.
-And throw in the entertainment values in this movie, even the slower parts had good time awareness and seemed catered to telling this tale and never losing just having fun.
The Process and Journey -When it comes to a character working towards a goal… you know it’s all about the journey to get there and not just the end game.
-And this movie does a fantastic job of bring you into that process, in my opinion.
-We’ve got montages of training that of course are cliché and expected of this movie, but with the music, the editing with the sound/commentary, and breaking it up moments… it feels fresh and fun.
-Throw in the fact that there is a documentary/video making approach to the film, and it adds this modern relativity to it that dare I say makes it better in my opinion.
-And again, it has these nuances that multigenerational approaches can enjoy and respect, but never loses the fun moment, even when things take a slower journey -That’s right, even the back half of the film where things change has a process that is respectable, and kind of shows a more realistic approach to character development than what Disney often does.
-That again helps tie the movie down to the grounded moment and keep focus, and makes these harder moments believable, engaging, and quite honestly more impactful.
-That is a beautiful thing to keep me entertained during slower moments.
-The Humor -Chang’s dunking journey may have some in your face moments that are cringe worthy, but a lot of it just feels very natural and fun.
-Klutzes like me, will enjoy the slapstick stumbling as he works on getting in shape, appreciating the falls with a purpose vs. Falls for being dumb.
-The one-liners and stings are timed well, and pulled in at the right times, alongside the awkward banter that arises with the use of this stuff.
-And the fact that it gives you time to reset and enjoy the variety is smart, allowing the humor to be a topping, not the whole movie, which is very impressive in my opinion.
The Overall Morals Of The Story -The movie is of course a Disney coming of age tale, and that means we probably need to learn something.
-And this movie accomplishes much of this with lessons that actually are logical, balanced, and not so extreme like so many of their projects are.
-It helps with identity searching without so much entitlement and empowerment to the point of toxic movements.
-It conveys realistic growth and just how fallible we are, but doesn’t paint anyone a major enemy to do it, but rather shows how the character struggles.
-And it teaches so much about the hard work that comes when things hit the fan. It’s beautiful the way it works out and really shows how a story can be developed and be amazing.
The Music -It’s a powerful track list that brings so much with it in regards to the utility and feelings that a good song can bring.
-Knowing most of the songs, the nostalgic factor is of course fun and inspiring to have a blast to your own achievements and memories.
-And yet, the selection again works well to go with the feeling of the scene and really deliver the punch that would be gone without it. Such a great use of music.
A Tad Hokey at Times -This is hard to achieve, but the movie does dive a bit into the preachy hokey moments that make families go AWWWWWW.
-They are few and far between, and often avoid getting too monologue like, and I like that it’s not too in your face.
-When you do that, it works so well that even the veering into the lanes don’t throw me off too much to be too upset.
Some Character Development That Needed Some Time -Some things get a little short sighted, and some moments could have had more heat, time, and a scene or two to integrate.
-Yet again, most of the characters and areas they had to approach, were again stellar in their handling and even these missing moments were not quite as missed in the grand scheme because of the stronger moments.
-The finish might have needed just a little more time for the full kick for me, but again, I’m being nitpicky on this particular area.
A Tad Longer Than Probably Needed with The Content -Given the direction they took, it felt a tad long at times, a few moments maybe a bit more dragged out to get cameos in or throw that one moment into the mix.
-But again, I can’t say there was a lot of dead time either, and so reducing by like 10-15 minutes might have put this at the right time, unless they had made more time with the other characters.
Predictable For The Most Part -I mean, this was not one of those unique stories that revolutionizes the movie world, so as such, the twist factor is pretty minimal.
-And even though I know where this is going and can see where things are going to fall, it still has enough entertainment and class with it, that the predictability is not the full run over that other movies do.
-Therefore, again, this movie may not be the most original, mind blowing, or dare I say top notch sports movie, but that heart helps things out.
The VERDICT: To my surprise, this Disney original film really works for me and feels like the time back in the 90s and 2000s when Disney knew how to have fun, tell stories, and make entertaining stories. Chang Can Dunk shows how to take real life issues, but wrap them in engaging, natural and fun stories that help break away from the drudges of reality. I loved the movements of earnest focus, and the way the acting/characters blend well to teach the lessons and not make me hate what I’m learning. It drops so much of the entitlement and superiority and instead focuses on just being real and constructive. I loved the jokes, I loved the montages, and again the music has such power behind the familiar strands. Sure the movie is not perfect in all its endeavors. It’s not the most unique tale, and it does not match things and characters perfectly, but I also don’t think it veered too far. So that leaves me with the following scores and recommendations to see this movie: