"Slam Dunk Entertainment"
What You Need To Know:
CHANG CAN DUNK is an enjoyable, absorbing, upbeat teenage drama with a likable protagonist and good supporting characters. It has a strong moral worldview with some redemptive content. Honesty, repentance, restitution, penance, and reconciliation are extolled. However, CHANG CAN DUNK has some light foul language. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.
CHANG CAN DUNK is a teenage drama on Disney+ about an unpopular sophomore in high school named Chang who makes a bet with his romantic rival, a player on the high school basketball team, that he, Chang, can dunk a basketball by Homecoming, despite being only five foot eight inches tall. CHANG CAN DUNK is an enjoyable, absorbing, upbeat drama with strong morally uplifting, redemptive elements about telling the truth and making amends, but there is some light foul language.
Bernard Chang is a 16-year-old Chinese-American basketball fanatic whose sports hero is the late Kobe Bryant. On the first day of school as a sophomore, the other teenagers ignore him except for his tech-savvy friend, Bo. In band practice, however, he becomes attracted to a new girl in school named Kristy. The two are both drummers, so they hit it off immediately.
However, when Chang is distracted, the basketball team’s lead player, Matt, starts to move in on Kristy. Then, in gym class, Matt prevents Chang from making a basket by hitting his ball against Chang’s as they both take a shot.
After the next basketball game, Matt has an after-game party at his house. Chang and Matt are both trying to talk to Kristy, but Matt’s friends manage to lock Chang in the basement. Chang manages to escape out the window. He confronts Matt. Words are said, and Chang ends up in the pool.
The next day at school, Chang makes a daring bet that he can dunk a basketball by Homecoming, despite being only five foot eight inches tall. The loser gets his head shaved, Chang suggests, but Matt says they should put up something more valuable. Chang suggests that, if he dunks the ball, Matt will give him his framed Kobe Byrant jersey, and Chang will offer an expensive first edition Pokemon card.
In hopes of making good on his bet, Chang hires a former overseas basketball star, Deandre, to train him. Chang doesn’t have any money to pay Deandre, however. So, Chang’s friend, Bo, agrees to help Deandre improve the look of his video podcast, which will film Chang’s progress over the next 10 weeks until Homecoming.
The podcasts of Chang training with Deandre turn Chang into a local YouTube star, and he begins to earn the respect of the other students in his school, not just Kristy. However, can winning a silly bet and putting a ball through a hoop really be the answer to the lack of meaning in Chang’s life? Also, what will happen when Chang’s mom finds out about the bet?
CHANG CAN DUNK is an enjoyable, absorbing, upbeat teenage drama with a likable protagonist and good supporting characters. The teenage actors never overplay their roles, and the movie’s dramatic moments are laced with comedy that lightens the heaviness of the more serious moments. Also, the writing fits today’s teenage scene, without inserting any of the woke ideas that Disney and other media conglomerates in Hollywood have been trying to bring into their family projects. The filmmakers use visual effects from Chang’s personal journal to improve the narrative. In one scene, Bo and Chang comically discuss what animals Chang should imitate in his training. Chang nixes frogs and grasshoppers to settle on a red panda avatar. In another scene, Chang uses a red panda sticker above some lockers to mock Matt. Meanwhile, Chang’s workout sequences of jamming to Jimmy Eat World’s song “In the Middle” and a big band version of “Ecstasy of Gold” from the movie THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY are fun teenage versions of Rocky’s epic training sequences.
CHANG CAN DUNK has a strong morally uplifting worldview with some light redemptive themes. It extols the virtue of honesty, shows that “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), and posits that “every obstacle is an opportunity” to become a better version of yourself. Chang’s false assumption that “if I could dunk, I could be someone special” is admirably proven wrong by the narrative writers and replaced with a biblical moral view that he is someone special who eventually is able to dunk. His admission of guilt, restitution, penance, and “forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13), are not only uplifting and redemptive. They also create an exhilarating third act that really gets the audience on their feet. CHANG CAN DUNK has some light foul language, however. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.
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