Doc of the Day: The Dotted Line Review - Dan Schindel

Doc of the Day: The Dotted Line

Posted in Days of Docs, Reviews by - August 31, 2012

Sports agents. They’re oft-reviled, but what are they really like? Morgan Spurlock finds out.

Dir. Morgan Spurlock, 2011, 52 min, Viewed via Netflix Instant

It’s a bit sad that the best thing Morgan Spurlock’s done in years is this plainly work-for-hire stuff. Directing at the behest of ESPN for their 30 for 30 series has given him focus and momentum. At a sharp 52 minutes, it’s on-point and interesting and never wears out its welcome. It’s also almost completely anonymous, without Spurlock’s voice at all (except, well, his literal voice is in it, because he narrates, but you know what I mean). Which is a bit sad.

Each of the films in the 30 for 30 series (which has now expanded beyond 30 entries, meaning that each new film adds another level of Hitchhiker’s Guide-esque hilarity to the title) concentrates on a different topic having to do with the wide universe of sports (Renée is also part of the series). The Dotted Line is about sports agents, those shepherds of athletic talent. Although I don’t keep up with sports news, I’m given to understand from pop culture that I am to loathe agents greatly. As the movie points out, the only time we ever seem to see them is when athletes are either in trouble with the law or battling for an extra million on their contract. But their world is somewhat more complex than that.

Spurlock follows several different agents on the job, hunting down and signing new talent. He also talks with several veterans, including David Falk, well-known as Michael Jordan’s agent, the man who realized the vast untapped potential for dollars in special promotion. He’s the guy who conceived the “Air Jordans.” Honestly, Falk alone could make a great doc, and the film suffers a bit by not paying too much attention to him. Mostly, it focuses on how agents are looking to recruit younger and younger players coming from other countries, such as Venezuela.

The sense we get here is that agents are evil as a rule, though they sure aren’t inherently good. They all admit freely that most will disregard rules, especially when it comes to wrangling college players. It’s a profession like any other, and there are good and bad apples. Sure, we meet some scumbags, but there are also guys who seem honestly interested in protecting the interests of their athletes.

The Dotted Line is brief but cool, and it really is Morgan Spurlock’s most even film since Super Size Me. I don’t know if that’s a solid enough endorsement, since it’s still pretty light and might not hold much interest for anyone who doesn’t follow sports. Then again, my impression is that I am in a solid minority in not following sports, so who knows.

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Dan Schindel loves movies more than you do.

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