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. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

22 Jump Street (0/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 118 minutes.

Not for children.

When you see the Channing Tatum in a movie you know you’re going to get a wooden performance, an actor with no comedic timing, and one whose every line is reminiscent of Tony Curtis muttering, “Yonda lies da castle of my fadda” in The Black Shield of Falworth (1954).

But Curtis was serious about his craft and three years later in his breakout role, which he fought and risked his career to get, brilliantly played smarmy press agent Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success, Ernest Lehman’s roman à clef about Walter Winchell, and followed that up two years later as a cross-dressing musician in Billy Wilder’s classic, Some Like it Hot. Can anyone seriously see any such performances in Tatum’s future?

If Tatum’s acting weren’t bad enough, it is disappointingly directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who also co-directed its predecessor, 21 Jump Street, which was surprisingly entertaining. Here, however, they go so far over the top that it’s just insultingly ridiculous.

Tatum is teamed with Jonah Hill. Hill has given some fair performances but he’s given nothing with which to work here by the banal script. There are five writing credits (I will charitably not spread their names around but two are the same ones who wrote the predecessor), with Hill receiving one although I don’t know why he would want to be associated with this as a writer; acting in it is bad enough. There are two credits for the story for a total of seven. One story credit is to Steve Cannell for the TV series. Having gotten to know him a little before his untimely demise, I doubt if he’d be pleased with this piece of trash. Throwing a bunch of F-bombs just isn’t enough.

Ice Cube, as the boss of Tatum and Hill, was the funniest part of the first film, but here he just reprises his anger and it loses all its humor. More deplorable is a tasteless side story of Hill’s having sex with Ice Cube’s daughter (Amber Stevens). Everything is so extraordinarily implausible and silly that almost every scene has something in it that should make anybody with an IQ over 25 squirm at its idiocy.

Tatum and Hill make a meager effort to create some sort of comedic chemistry, but Laurel & Hardy need not worry. There is nothing the least bit humorous about anything the two of them do and their dialogue doesn’t even rise to a level that could at least be considered sophomoric. Apropos of Tatum's "talent" is a scene in which he is required to try to laugh uproariously at something Hill has done. His ability to feign laughter brings Julia Roberts' lame efforts immediately to mind.

RReminiscent of John McEnroe’s memorable rant, “You cannot be serious!,” some might claim that this is a really subtle “inside baseball” satire mocking buddy movies, male bonding, and even 21 Jump Street, that Tatum’s performance is brilliantly camp, and that it’s all a big joke. If that’s what they intended they simply fail dismally to achieve such a desired result. That’s a meager excuse for a film that is inexcusably coarse, philistine, and extraordinarily unfunny.

The end credits indicate that there are innumerable sequels being considered. While this might be part of the joke, and although I think we have far too many laws in our society, there ought to be a law against making insultingly vulgar, imbecilic films like this. The penalty would be having to spend a month in Chicago without a gun.

June 10, 2014