Gunnin' for That #1 Spot is a few things: a documentary about a bunch of high school kids, a valentine to New York, and a series of music videos. Overall, it's more or less Hoop Dreams, tightened up and spliced to a soundtrack of Jay-Z, Freeway, N.W.A., and Lil Wayne.
Unsurprisingly, director Adam Yauch, AKA the Beastie Boys' MCA, also sneaks a few Beasties tracks into the mix; surprisingly, Yauch proves to be a pretty good documentarian. As Nathaniel Hörnblowér, he's directed a gazillion Beastie Boys videos, but here, he profiles nine high school kids (including Lake Oswego's Kevin Love and Medford's Kyle Singler) as they gear up to play in the annual "Elite 24" game at Harlem's Rucker Park. It's an all-star game for basketball prodigies who've been offered sneaker contracts at age 13, who're obsessively tracked by sports freaks, and who balance, with bravado and nervousness, the great expectations placed upon them. As a doc about these kids' challenges, Gunnin' definitely works—but as a series of highlight reels, it kills. Watching these kids play, both at Rucker and via grainy, astonishing VHS footage from their high school games, is like watching a lineup of AND1 players wipe the floor with your dad's pick-up team at the Y. It's nothing short of exhilarating.