Warner Bros. // 2006 // 418 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 9th, 2006
Magic Johnson used to play basketball. He was wicked good. This is his story.
Magic Johnson's reign as a dominant NBA force was a little outside of my timeline as a fan for me to truly appreciate his deftness with the basketball. Only his shocking retirement announcement and his 1992 All-Star game hang around in my memory. I wasn't privy to championship runs or his prolific merchandising or his legendary battles with his arch-nemesis Larry Bird. So here we have Always Showtime, a DVD sporting a documentary and some game footage detailing Magic's rise to greatness, and perhaps the best thing I can say about this release is that I learned a whole lot more about Magic Johnson and came away truly wowed by his accomplishments.
Always Showtime is a dual-sided, two-disc set. The first disc houses the feature presentation, the titular one-hour documentary, tracking Magic's childhood affinity for the game of basketball, following his immediate rise to stardom in high school, his dominance of the NCAA (culminating in the immortal face-off with Larry Bird for the championship), then on to his monstrous NBA career.
All the highlights are hit as we see Magic in real footage from high school to college to the pros. Interwoven through the footage are interviews with Magic's family, coaches and teammates from every level of competition, and Magic himself. You'll see his incredible rookie season, his start at center in Game 6 in the 1980 NBA finals (what he claims his best game ever), those showdowns with Bird and the cursed Celtics, and tons and tons of impressive no-look passes, jumping hook shots, impossible feeds to the open man, acrobatic lay-ins, tomahawk dunks, behind-the-back dimes, and smiles galore.
It's a good program. It is old, though. Made in 1991, Always Showtime looks its age. Toward the end a new documentary piece is added on, picking up where the old one left off, hitting on his retirement announcement and his memorable final All-Star game appearance. A new narrator even takes over; it's glaring, but there's no way a summary of Magic's career would be complete without the most stunning news of his tenure.
And about that narration: for the majority of the runtime (the old material so to speak), Danny Glover provides the voiceover. Folks, it's probably one the cheesiest, overly sentimental narrations I have ever heard. Nothing against Glover, who kicked enough Predator and Busey ass to earn himself my good graces, but the guy delivers this track with so much syrup, it was as if he was proclaiming the Gospel to a leper colony.
No, the highlight of this feature is the copious amount of in-game antics the producers were able to conjure up. Magic was truly a master-craftsman of the game, a player who revitalized a league that was on the verge of inconsequence. The gathered highlights are great fun to watch, and served as a reminder that there will probably never be another 6'9" point guard with skill of Magic Johnson. If you can get past the antiquated production values, you Magic fans should enjoy this retrospect.
Supplementing the main feature is Magic's number retirement ceremony, a 22-minute commemorative event held at the L.A. forum, where his number 32 was laid to rest in the rafters, and his closest friends (including Bird) paid their respects. The rest of the discs are taken up with full games. They are:
* Disc 1, Side B:
10/12/79 Magic's first NBA game against the Clippers. (Surprise Bill Walton's injured!)
* Disc 2, Side A:
1980 NBA Finals, Game 6, a truly awesome performance where Magic starts at center and drops over 40 on Dr. J's squad.
* Disc 2, Side B:
1992 NBA All-Star Game, Magic bags his second All-Star MVP and enjoys some classic late-game match-ups with Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.
Overall, it's a good set, stuffed with plenty of goodies for Magic fans. I got a kick out of the All-Star game myself, but the other games are solid installments in the Magic cannon. A game against Bird would have been appreciated, especially their NCAA championship shoot-out.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 418 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Magic's Number Retirement Ceremony
* Magic's First Game, 1979
* 1980 NBA Finals, Game 6
* 1992 NBA All-Star Game
* Official Site