This documentary is a riveting, perceptive look at how a champion goes beyond good to become great. Coaches, sports fans, and hopeful athletes will definitely lean in, but since the theories discussed here apply to achieving excellence in all areas, it's just as captivating to non-sports enthusiasts. But the audience that this film may appeal to the most is parents: What mom or dad hasn't seen a spark in their child and wondered whether he or she has what it takes to be the next Michael Jordan, John Lennon, or Meryl Streep -- and then wondered what to do to encourage it. By highlighting stories about the best of the best, along with scientific and analytical research, the film provides answers that are immensely insightful and satisfying.
Stylistically, In Search of Greatness is simple and straightforward, almost like a thesis paper. It begins by dismissing the current "combine method" of athletic evaluation through statistics: speed, strength, mobility, etc. Then it launches into its core theory: Genius is a byproduct of many things but includes an element that's quickly disappearing: unstructured play. While this assertion might seem like common sense -- free time lets you explore, create, and ultimately innovate solutions that can lead to a winning advantage -- it comes off as revelatory. From there, the film moves through bullet-point assertions, proving each notion (e.g., don't force your kids to practice if they don't have passion for something) by pointing to examples and experts who back it up. The film does have a void: It ignores the sports in which athletically inclined genetics and hard work really can overcome all, such as swimming and track. But this film is really for those who want to know how the greats overcame the odds to dominate, and those questions are answered.