Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as
an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25
years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach.
Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration
for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game
winning streak in 1974."
more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach.
Click the Book to read
the players telling their stories in their own words. This is the book
that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.
Click the book to read the first chapter and for
The Grand (3/10)
by Tony Medley
This is an improvisational
attempt at comedy. I emphasize the word “attempt,” because, like others
of this genre (2003’s “A Mighty Wind” for example) I didn’t find it very
humorous. These things stretch so far for laughs that they fail. The
essence of comedy is for someone to be funny without actually looking
like he’s trying to be funny, even though we know he’s trying very hard.
Successful comedians make it look natural, like it’s not work. Does Jon
Stewart look like he’s working up a sweat to be funny? Billy Crystal?
Did Johnny Carson or Jack Benny?
To the contrary, these
films look like everyone is working very hard, indeed. This film didn’t
work from a script. The players had a detailed treatment and they took
it from there.
The film follows six poker
players, druggy One Eyed Jack Faro (Woody Harrelson), Larry Schwartzman
(David Cross), LBJ “Deuce” Fairbanks (Dennis Farina), Lainie Schwartzman
(Cheryl Hines), The German (Werner Herzog), and Dr. Yakov Achmed (Jason
Alexander) as they vie to compete in a winner-take-all “Grand
Championship of Poker” in Las Vegas.
The cast also includes some
TV sitcoms icons, like Ray Romano, who plays Lainie’s husband, and Gabe
Kaplan, who plays Seth Schwartzman, the father of Lainie and Larry. I
thought that Herzog gave a pretty good performance, as did Hines and
Kaplan. The characters of Alexander and Harrelson were just too silly to
be funny. As to Romano, it’s difficult to figure out why he is in the
film. His character has no purpose whatever.
This film can serve as a
lesson that actors have lots of credit to give to directors and writers
for their success. Kaplan, Alexander, and Romano were very funny in
their respective sitcoms, “Welcome Back, Kotter,” “Seinfeld,” and
“Everybody Loves Raymond.” Even Harrelson was effectively humorous in
“Cheers.” Not one of them can inspire even so much as a smile here.
Alexander’s character is particularly ridiculous. Maybe their humor is
due more to material and brilliant direction than to inherent talent.
As with most of these
things, this is too over the top to be really funny. In fact the first
hour is almost interminable. If you like poker, the actual playing of
the poker only occupies about the last twenty minutes. The rest of the
film is trying to set up the characters. And the characters are so
ludicrous that they just aren’t funny.
If you’re a fan of this
type of thing, if you found humor in “A Mighty Wind,” you could enjoy
this. If not, forget it.
March 4, 2008