A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Linsanity is a documentary about Jeremy Lin, the NBA player who made headlines in February 2012 for coming off the bench an unknown and then leading the New York Knicks to a winning streak that created an overnight success dubbed "Linsanity." The documentary chronicles how Lin, who grew up in Northern California, had to battle prejudice, disinterest from Division 1 colleges, and disappointment dealing with the draft and several team trades before exploding onto the scene in 2012. Although several derogatory terms are hurled against Lin ("chink" and "Chinaman," for example), the comments provide a teachable moment for parents and older kids to discuss bigotry and overcoming discrimination, in sports and in life.
What's the story?
What is LINSANITY? It's the word to describe the seemingly overnight success of NBA player Jeremy Lin, who blew basketball fans, the media, and even his teammates away when he came off the bench to lead the New York Knicks to a remarkable winning streak in February 2012. Not only did Lin surprise because of his incredible per-game average but also because the then-unknown player was a 6-foot-3 Chinese-American. This documentary, narrated by Daniel Dae Kim, reveals how Lin was one of California's best high-school ball players but how he ended up at Harvard instead of a Division 1 school, possibly because of his heritage. While battling discrimination and disappointment, Lin keeps focused thanks to his family and faith.
Is it any good?
The movie is thoughtful and family-focused, and Jeremy Lin seems like an ideal athlete for young basketball fans to admire and respect. The story of Lin's rise to fame is well known and was exhaustively covered in 2012. The American-born middle son of Taiwanese immigrants, he grew up in Palo Alto, Calif., and went on to play at Harvard before ending up in the NBA and eventually having a series of games that most professional athletes can only dream about. But what the documentary shows is how Lin didn't go to Harvard because that was his dream; his dream was to get drafted to play professional ball. He had hoped to attend Stanford or Berkeley or another Division 1 college, but none of them seemed interested in him, despite his being a first-team, All State player.
As a devout Christian, Lin considers his talent a gift from God, and the documentary includes several interviews with his family's minister to explain how Lin's faith carried him through the more difficult aspects of his journey to the NBA. He always had the talent and the drive, but, time and time again, Lin had to face and overcome disappointment. Every time he showed up on a court, odds were he'd have to deal with the opposing team's fans (or players) hurling racial epithets and insensitive jokes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way race and image played a role in Jeremy Lin's journey to NBA success. How did Lin's background hurt him and also possibly help him?
How did the media cover Lin's immediate popularity? Were they able to separate his skills from his ethnicity? What do you think of all the Asian jokes and puns, however well-intentioned, made about him?
Do you think Jeremy Lin is a good role model? Why? Who are some other underdogs and pioneering stars in their given sports?
- On DVD or streaming: January 6, 2014
- Cast: Daniel Dae Kim, Jeremy Lin
- Director: Evan Leong
- Studio: Ketchup Entertainment
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for some thematic elements and language.
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