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Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: In 2001, Lenny Cooke was the most hyped high school basketball player in the country, ranked above future greats LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. A decade later, Lenny has never played a minute in the NBA. In this quintessentially American documentary, filmmaking brothers Joshua and Benny Safdie track the unfulfilled destiny of a man for whom superstardom was only just out of reach. Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 19, 2013
    The Safdies have stood out over the last few years for continually challenging audience expectations even while seeming to adhere to conventional storytelling traditions, and that's certainly true here: You've never seen a sports movie like this before.
  2. Reviewed by: Gabe Toro
    Nov 19, 2013
    Lenny Cooke isn't a documentary, it's an autopsy, detailing exactly why Cooke vanished off the map and why he struggled to get back into the game, a focus that goes micro where other sports docs go macro.
  3. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Dec 3, 2013
    Ordinary life comes to look like a humiliation in the late reels of Lenny Cooke, yet another heartbreaker of a doc in which a compelling basketball story powers a discomfiting examination of a crisis facing young American men.
  4. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    Nov 19, 2013
    While it verges on exploitation of the gentle giant at its core, it's also an effective bit of human drama, competently, and sometimes movingly, telling a story that deserves to be told.
  5. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Dec 12, 2013
    A compellingly unconventional, elliptical sports documentary that explores the mysterious realm of might-have-been.
  6. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Dec 3, 2013
    While Lenny Cooke’s considerable social and emotional resonance still doesn’t measure up to Hoop Dreams’, the Safdies beautifully evoke the other side of the professional game, the many basketball casualties who don’t get movies made about them.
  7. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Nov 19, 2013
    While a composited scene, in which has-been Lenny lectures his younger self about work ethic and wisdom, has an undeniable poignancy, actual tragedy remains far beyond the film's grasp -- as does any illumination beyond the unsurprising suggestion that Cooke just didn't want success as much as peers like LeBron James.

See all 14 Critic Reviews

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