Mar 24

Movie March – Dear Basketball

National Basketball Animation

Welcome back to Movie March, where we’ll be looking at and reviewing animated films from both the east and the west all month long. For our fourth entry of 2018, I’ve decided to watch something completely different to what I usually cover and consider, in the animated short Dear Basketball.

Why? Because it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short this year, that’s why. And seeing as I now apparently watch Oscar award-winning films, this seemed a perfect choice. Plus I don’t have much time this week. So anyway, let’s see what the fuss is about.

The basic gist of the four to five minute short is it’s an animated version of the love letter to basketball Kobe Bryant wrote to announce his retirement from the sport. As such all the narration of the film, which is done by Kobe himself, clearly comes from the heart, even if it can sound a little flat at times.

Far less flat is the animation. Spearheaded by Disney veteran Glen Keane, who has worked on a bunch of classics like Aladdin and Little Mermaid, you can see some of that old Disney magic shine through, especially in the character design of the child Kobe.

The animation itself is clearly produced on a budget, for both better and worse. It does mean some shots lack fluidity and feel a tad jerky, but on the other end, some of the scenes have had much love and attention swathed onto them, looking smooth and slick to behold, and the sort of sketchbook come to life artstyle which feels like an animatic taken to the next level works well.

As for the music that plays in the background throughout, despite having John Williams, who I really hope you all know of, on composing duty, it really does just feel like a song they lifted from one of his previous works, or somebody with a similar style. Sure, I don’t expect another Superman theme in a short piece like this, but without knowing he worked on it before going it, I’d never have guessed.

Still, its nothing to complain about. For all it’s roughness around the edges, there is a magic to this simple tale of one man and his love of basketball. And when it shines, such as in a few slam dunk shots and transitions from adult to child and back again, it truly looks amazing. So if you’ve got a couple of minutes to kill, why not check this out, you won’t regret it.

And there you have it. Sorry if you were hoping for something a bit more substantial, maybe I’ll do an entire article on animated shorts one of these days, it’s something we don’t cover enough on here. In the meantime, I can confirm there is one more Movie March to come, and it’s also almost time to unveil my Top Ten Anime of 2017! …which means I should probably choose which show ranks where soon. Stay tuned!