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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Long Shot is a 2017 documentary about a man acquitted from a crime he didn't commit through an extraordinary set of circumstances. There's infrequent profanity, including use of "f--k." The murder scene is shown up close, including the body of a woman lying dead on the street. Overall, this documentary should inspire discussion among families about the criminal justice system, and what happens when people are falsely accused and charged of crimes they didn't commit. Furthermore, the idea of fate and how it connects to the extraordinary set of circumstances shown in this documentary could be a worthy topic of conversation as well.
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What's the story?
In 2003, Juan Catalan was charged with a homicide he didn't commit. As he maintained his innocence under examination and served time in jail, a tenacious lawyer heard about the case through a mutual friend. As he met with Catalan, Catalan revealed that on the night of the murder, he was at a Dodgers game with his daughter. While this should've proven his innocence, the case was not so easy. It required the lawyer to meet with the LA Dodgers organization and go through hours of videotape in the hopes of finding definitive footage of Catalan sitting in the stands. Unable to find this, and with no credit card receipts from purchases made by Catalan at the game, the outlook began to look bleak. However, hope was renewed when it was revealed that a certain popular long-running comedy had been filming on-location at Dodger Stadium in the general vicinity of where Catalan had been sitting. Now the lawyer and Catalan, with the help of this show, hope that somehow there's clear footage of Catalan in any of the filmed scenes, thus proving his innocence. But it's a LONG SHOT.
Is it any good?
This documentary unfolds an extraordinary set of circumstances with economy and skill. While true stories of innocent men charged with crimes they didn't commit facing death row are common and often tragic beyond all comprehension, this documentary shows a happy ending so incredible as to seem fated. The twist in the story is almost unbelievable, and the fact that this particular show and actor were involved makes it both all the more incredible, and also provides some much-needed levity in the midst of a terrible situation.
While Long Shot does provide closure as to what happened after Catalan's miraculous acquittal, some questions remain unanswered -- but maybe that's the point. For instance, the prosecutor of the case displays very little remorse over what happened, and even when Catalan's attendance at Dodger Stadium is clearly proven, she still isn't convinced. Is this a product of the mindset needed to be a prosecutor in the criminal justice system? A reflection of systemic racism in the courts? Or something else? That's the ultimate takeaway from this documentary: What would have happened to Catalan had certain cameras not been in the right place at the right time?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about documentaries. How does Long Shot present and unfold this true-crime story?
The story in this documentary has an unusual twist involving a hit show and a famous actor. The big reveal could easily be a spoiler when talking of this documentary with others. Have you ever had a movie or TV show spoiled by someone, or have you accidentally spoiled a TV show or movie for a friend? How might you explain this movie without giving away the surprise?
How did this documentary present the side of the prosecution and the detectives who falsely accused and prosecuted Catalan?
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