Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story: Film Review
Franklin Martin's doc follows an one-armed youth who overcame his handicap to become a star in high-school basketball.
An ordinary doc about an unusual subject, Franklin Martin's Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story introduces viewers to a one-armed youth who overcame his handicap to become a star in high school basketball. Despite the story's elements of suspense, loss and determination, though, the picture has a mundane, low-stakes vibe that fails to make the most of its inspirational content. Sports fans and disabled communities are its strongest audience.
Laue, a Pleasanton, California resident, had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and left hand before birth. The hand kept him from asphyxiating in utero, but didn't survive the lack of circulation: He was born with a left arm that ended just below the elbow. To make matters worse, his family and coaches all agree (from observing how he throws and performs other chores) he was meant to be a southpaw.
But one physical anomaly compensated for another, at least where basketball is concerned: Laue was six-foot-nine by seventh grade, and eventually reached 6'11". Even if he hadn't learned to shoot and catch using his shortened arm, he'd be well equipped to block opponents' shots. In the ample game footage Martin offers here, the boy is an almost unbeatable defender of the basket.
Martin follows as Laue proves himself to coaches at sport camps and new schools, then observes as local media discover his story. Unfortunately, when that attention leads to a brief meeting with President Bush, the photo op makes him late to a critical game; playing with no warm-up time, he suffers a season-ending injury.
Martin follows as the young man struggles to come back from the setback, taking many opportunities to tie this effort to the tough-love childrearing philosophy of Laue's father, who died while the two were on bad terms. Touching as the loss may be, the film doesn't make it essential to the story, and Laue himself isn't an especially compelling presence on camera. The only real charisma onscreen comes late in the film, from septuagenarian Fletcher Arritt, head coach at the Fork Union military academy.
Production Company: Dutchmen Films
Director-Screenwriter: Franklin Martin
Producers: Franklin Martin, Billy Raftery
Executive producers: Dain Blair, Julian McMahon, Charlie Loventhal
Music: Robin Soper
Editors: Sam Citron, Tyler Lindsay, Jason Summers
No rating, 90 minutes.