Peter Nicks’ documentary Stephen Curry: Underrated, premiering on the Sundance Movie Competition, begins with NBA Corridor-of-Famer Reggie Miller studying from a withering scouting report for Stephen Curry. The report, written in regards to the Davidson star forward of the NBA draft, questions Curry’s athleticism, his measurement and his capacity to face up to the physicality of the skilled sport.
Almost two hours later, the documentary ends with Miller hailing the way in which Curry and his fashion of play single-handedly modified the NBA.
Stephen Curry: Underrated
The Backside Line
Refreshingly offbeat, if insufficiently targeted.
Venue: Sundance Movie Competition (Particular Screenings)
Director: Peter Nicks
1 hour 50 minutes
Based mostly on these bookends, it’s simple to foretell each beat of Underrated. One would possibly assume this shall be one more movie about an athlete who was capable of parlay a chip-on-the-shoulder perspective into greatness, full with a predictable assortment of speaking heads together with numerous members of the Warriors dynasty, maybe a legend or two and common appearances from Curry’s spouse, Ayesha, for humanizing.
Underrated seems to not be that documentary in any respect. Curry’s fellow Warriors stars are principally absent, although Draymond Inexperienced pops up by way of FaceTime when their respective alma maters face off within the NCAA Event. Miller is the one NBA legend to be discovered, and he solely seems in these two segments. Whereas Ayesha Curry is a basic presence, within the background of home pictures and audible in cellphone dialog, she isn’t a direct-to-camera a part of the documentary in any respect.
The perfect illustration I may give for the way fully Underrated most likely isn’t the documentary you’re anticipating is that the primary 12 seasons of Curry’s NBA profession are boiled all the way down to a montage that doesn’t last more than three minutes.
So if Underrated isn’t the ESPN-friendly soup-to-nuts documentary that you simply’re anticipating, what precisely is it? That’s somewhat more durable to elucidate.
Although the 34-year-old star has, because the doc makes clear, been neglected and underestimated his entire life, the movie appears to be like at his want to show doubters fallacious in two levels of his life. The current tense follows Curry’s eventful 2021-22 season, which noticed him break the NBA report for profession three-pointers, but in addition noticed the Warriors stumble by way of a tough swing that introduced skeptics out of the woodwork for the same old glib dismissals about how Curry and the staff have been previous their peak. Right here, the documentary eschews normal speaking heads and provides a fly-on-the-wall perspective on unseen moments — the celebratory dinner after his record-breaking sport options at the very least one visitor look that may excite basketball followers — and behind-the-scenes snapshots of Curry’s arduous exercises and time together with his three youngsters.
As for the previous, the documentary presents a fairly complete and far more conventionally instructed have a look at his youth, his time as a barely recruited highschool participant after which, notably, his time at Davidson. The Davidson years are actually the meat of the documentary, that includes appearances by teammates and coaches, led by Bob McKillop, whose perception in Curry was clearly formative.
What bridges the 2 segments isn’t the majority of Curry’s NBA profession — these two MVPs and three earlier titles would possibly as effectively not have existed — however reasonably the truth that in 2022, Steph Curry lastly graduated from Davidson, a lot to his mom Sonya’s pleasure.
One may argue that Nicks’ selection of focus places a level on the identical aircraft of accomplishment as an Elite Eight run in faculty basketball or an NBA title, one other factor that individuals doubted he may do. We see Curry having a number of Zoom conversations with a college advisor and, in a single very candy scene, struggling to correctly craft a proposal for his thesis on the identical desk the place his daughters are doing their homework, whereas his son jumps round popping bubble-wrap. This concentrate on schooling and vérité formalism nearly parallels Nicks’ final Sundance documentary, 2021’s Homeroom. However solely nearly.
Though we be taught that Curry’s thesis pertains to the under-representation of girls in sports activities, it’s odd how little of his private dedication to the trigger seems within the documentary. For some time, the completion of his diploma is vital to Curry and to the documentary, however then it’s pushed to the background in order that we will see 10 minutes of clips from numerous playoff collection that came about lower than a yr in the past. The documentary is a lot better after we’re seeing the less-familiar sides of Curry that come courtesy of Nicks’ entry — this features a treasure trove of home-movie footage from youth basketball and highschool — than simply highlights I may watch on SportsCenter.
There are comparable gaps within the Younger Steph portion of the documentary. Underrated doesn’t attempt to fake that Curry’s father wasn’t a well-respected NBA veteran, nevertheless it positively underplays the privilege of his upbringing. His mother and father’ athletic background is conveyed in nearly a footnote mentioning that Curry wished to comply with of their footsteps at Virginia Tech, however the Hokies didn’t recruit him — which feeds the underdog narrative higher than, “Boy, when you’ve got a poorly shaped jump-shot, it actually helps to be tutored by a dad who made an excellent residing as a high-percentage shooter.”
Possibly Nicks left some issues out as a result of he felt they have been too acquainted, and I respect Underrated notably for not being the simplest and most anticipated type of Stephen Curry hero worship. The documentary that it chooses to be as a substitute has attraction however, within the rush to get it onto screens earlier than the subsequent time any person dares underestimate Curry, maybe it lacks enough refinement.