Wednesday, April 28, 2010

30 for 30, "Run Ricky Run": The spliff myth?

A quick review of "Run Ricky Run," the latest "30 for 30" film, coming up just as soon as I put on a wedding dress...

After last week's unsurprisingly polarizing "Silly Little Game" (which I liked even with the wacky re-creations of events), "30 for 30" is back on firmer documentary ground with "Run Ricky Run," Sean Pamphilon and Royce Toni's extremely personal portrait of Ricky Williams. Though Pamphilon's perspective was more inside than, say, Steve James's on Allen Iverson, I appreciated that this wasn't a one-hour apology for Ricky. It looked at his failings, but also at the potential causes of those failings (being molested by his father, anxiety disorders) that go far deeper than the easy media "He just likes smoking pot too much" narrative.

(On the one hand, I found it a nice touch that they kept showing "PTI" clips to see how Tony and Wilbon's take on the guy changed over the years. On the other hand, I'm angry that I was forced to watch even a few seconds of Skip Bayless, after going out of my way to avoid him for several years now.)

I watched this only a few days after a Tribeca Film Festival screening of Ice Cube's "Straight Outta L.A." (it airs May 11), and it's hard for this more low-key story to live up to seeing Al Davis's terrifying face in HD on a giant movie screen. But "Run Ricky Run" did its job in showing me a side of a story I only thought I understood.

What did everybody else think?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Havn't seen it yet. It's on the DVR. I'm just glad that you warned me about the Skip Bayless footage. That would have been quite shocking. Skip is the WORST.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

I felt the opposite about the clips. I thought the typical overstated "outrage" of Bayless and Marriotti was just as lame as it always is and then looked ever more foolish when it was put in the context of what Ricky was going through. Those two wind bags think they are the guardians of sport, but most intelligent fans laugh at them.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the documentary but it was a little to cozy to Williams and really didn't even try to seem objective. I would have liked to see the director or interviewer pushed harder on what drug Ricky got suspended for using in 05' or 06'. Aside from the partiality, it was definitely an interesting experience and Ricky Williams certainly came across as misunderstood.

Shraf said...

Favorite comment came from Jay Mariotti: "Ricky is a disgrace to humanity." haha... I guess it takes one to know one

Q Ball said...

Skip Bayless, Jay Mariotti and Joe Theisman are all blowhards, but everyone already knows that.

I think this is one of my favorite 30 for 30s so far. This series better win some awards because there hasn't been many misses and all the stories have been fantastic.

Christian said...

If you haven't read it yet, the Onion's "article" on Skip Bayless a couple of weeks ago was priceless -- at least for those of us who aren't fans (does he have any?).

http://tinyurl.com/yyf3jfp

Oaktown Girl said...

When I first heard the title of this "30 for 30" on radio promos, I got excited because I thought it was going to be about Rickey Henderson. My comment coming up just as soon as I steal another base...

I haven't seen this one yet, but I've always felt compassion for the Ricky Williams because it's been so obvious he's dealing with some emotional and mental health issues. Plus, he didn't seem to be a "typical" jock, which perhaps made him feel like even more of an outsider amongst his peers. I'll definitely make a point to watch this one.

And thanks for the Skip Bayless laugh!

Anonymous said...

I liked the documentary. Ultimately, however, I have a hard time sympathizing/feeling good for a man who has 3 children with 3 different women, and seems indifferent to that fact. So he has his career back on track. And he's a father to some of his children. What about the ones that will grow up without him? Ultimately, he's putting those kids in the same situation he was raised in. This fact makes me feel for those kids, and makes me care less about what Williams has gone through personally to reach the place he's at now.

George said...

I thought this was an amazing piece that totally turned my perspective of Ricky Williams. Also thought the fact that it was ongoing during the entire journey, and not just comprised of old footage and a current memories made it more valuable to show how he affected people then and now.

I didn't get the impression that the film was intended to make everyone love Ricky at the end, but just to show that he wasn't the pot head he was made out to be. In my opinion it appeared the point was to tell his story of his journey, not serve as an apology or PR spin.

Manton said...

I agree wholeheartedly with George. It was a fascinating film which, sadly, was a more thorough journalistic endeavor than the 60 Minutes piece or any of those ESPN clips. This was not a film about judgment, but rather an attempt to understand someone who, when all is said and done, is just different. I'm happy to see that he's both successful and seems to be at peace with himself - he's worked hard enough to earn both.

Anonymous said...

Actually it's 4 kids by 3 women. He bangs chicks, most dudes do.
If you watched to movie you would have seen Ricky being a father to his kids. All but "Blaze", the one in Hawaii. Though I think there are some parts of that story left out.
Other than that I liked the doc. But I was taking up for Ricky for years. One of my favorite atheletes EVER.

Robert Cervantes said...

Probably my best part was all of Ricky's friends being brutally honest. If you didn't have the subtitle saying "friend", you would think everyone hated him.

But, I'm glad to see his friends open up and tell the brutal truth on Ricky. I learned a lot from this documentary. I must say that I sorta sided with the blowhards. But you can really see that Ricky is not a typical jock. He's just a different person. He's one of those people that we as a society are not ready for nor do we accept because we expect something different from our athletes.

Opened my eyes.

Hooks Orpik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hooks Orpik said...

I'm with Manton and the others. I enjoyed this one more than most other 30 for 30's to date. I think it was a pretty fair look at Williams, the good, bad and confusing.

I'm glad it seems that he's turned a corner and has shown more personal responsibility lately. It's not right to really tell someone how they ought to live his life, but I'm glad it seems he's gotten some of the help he needed.

Anonymous said...

the fantasy one was terrible

Flap Jackson said...

To me this was one of the best 30 for 30 episodes because it did everything I think the series should be. As/in give me something I know little to nothing about, give me a compelling story, and something that goes really in depth about its subject.

The film also had the advantage of filming the guy's life for some 5 years, and being able to interview every major figure connected to William's life. The Allen Iverson film couldn't even get AI himself to come on, and by the end of film, I still didn't feel like I knew the man behind the name of Allen Iverson. I have the completely opposite reaction after Ricky Williams now.

The guy is about as compelling as you get, and the film did a great job of showing that.

Anonymous said...

Ricky Williams is the prodigal son... that's always a great story.

It would be interesting to go back and visit him again 30 years after he's done with football. He's one of the few NFL players who are likely to have a more interesting life after football then their life was playing the game.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of the series but i actually thought this was the weakest episode yet. Great idea and all but the execution was just terrible. Just was never able to get a clear picture of everything and i thought it was very weak.

Paco said...

just watched this 30 for 30 installment which i found was among the best of the series. i have to say i disagree with many that state that this doc confirmed that "ricky is just different". in fact he is not all that different from people who have had traumatic childhood event. and boy did ricky have some real (the incident with his father) and perceived (issues with his mother) childhood traumas. my simple takeaway from this doc was that everything ricky did (smoke weed, quit football, depression, journey to self discovery) was to deal with whatever happened or whatever he perceived to happened in his childhood. other people use other vehicles of self destruction to cope with such issues like hard drugs, alcohol, sex, violence etc. i give him a lot of credit for salvaging his career, family and life. i never gave a thought about ricky williams outside of my Eagles not drafting him and instead taking mcnabb in that draft. but, i will be rooting for him maintain his life. as for the pothead label, if smoking pot was his only issue, he was 10 years ahead of his time. i don't think he would be demonized for just smoking pot today as he was then. and in another 10 years when weed is legalized. walk ricky walk.