In awarding the first-ever Oscar (Robertson) for the Best Basketball Motion Picture of The Year, Ball in Europe is pleased to be able to acknowledge not only truly the best basketball movie of 2009, but the best movie of 2009; not only the greatest film of the year, but the greatest film of all-time; and not merely the greatest film of all-time, but one of the single most significant accomplishments in the very existence of homo sapiens.
To that film – nay, this human achievement – goes the 2009 Oscar (Robertson) for Best Basketball Motion Picture of the Year.
That film is “Who Shot Mamba?”
As a mere mortal like yours truly has no business even attempting to encapsulate the breathtaking breadth of this film’s philosophical scope and no chance at capturing all the sharp humor in a movie that blows away discussion of formerly held cinematic comedy classics like “The Great Dictator” and “The Life of Brian” (Is it any coincidence that Mamba’s titular character is as serpentine as that Monty fellow from Britain?), I’ll allow the official website to provide the capsule description:
When Merri Sherman (screenwriter/worship-worthy genius Brian Spaeth) is framed for the murder of his best friend, a charismatic snake named Mamba, he must follow the ominous, doom-laden instructions of the Prophesy of the Orange Roundie in order to unravel the truth and clear his name.
Humbly BiE might add that well involved in the general conspiracy is the greatest player in the game, #0 Calvin Stadiums (Dylan Mooney), who general magnificence and sneakermongering hangs over “Who Shot Mamba?” like a certain Jumpman’s still shades the NBA. Along the way to cathartic redemption, Sherman must also find the resolve to deal with the demons of his past and his tortured relationship (or is that the other way ‘round?) while somehow dodging the increasingly persistent detectives Lt. Tracy Riggs (Dominic Pace) and Becky Thunderbreastinyorkinshire (Stephanie Sanborn).
Here is the trailer which is, needless to say, the most fantabulous 46-second YouTube clip of all-time.
And the origin of “Who Shot Mamba?” might be said to be as fascinating and cool as “Who Shot Mamba?” itself, were not “Who Shot Mamba?” so insanely fascinating and cool. The source material for “Mamba” was taken from the YaySports! NBA blog (now shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible), a reportedly wickedly popular site for basketball aficionados that went down in a blaze of baked potatoes and Sarah Palin reportage in November 2008.
Luckily for literate basketball fans, the interweb, and literature itself, former Yay Sports NBA blogger The Cavalier, a.k.a. Brian Spaeth, now has his own space online, the incredible magical basketball mystery tour known as Brian 23. And the captivating, compelling story of the transition from blog to screenplay to film masterpiece, “Prelude to a Who Shot Mamba?” is also available for absolutely no price – How benevolent and generous can such a wise man be?
Back to topic. To describe “Who Shot Mamba?” as “awesome” would be understating, in seriously awesome fashion, the very awesomeness of awesome itself. How can anyone question any product of human endeavor that combines basketball, the ominous promise of manyotes (“half man, half coyote”), freelance medical personnel named Dr. Crazy and Nurse Insane, a sherpa named Skippy, red meat from Japan, classic referencing of films from “Batman” to “Lord of the Rings” to an absolutely insane blink-and-you’ll-miss-it paean to “Back to the Future” that sends this script into “Donnie Darko” territory, Ben Wallace (not really), Bill Walton (really), Staples Center, lots of mascots, the greatest fistfight ever (and trust me, i’ve been espousing “They Live” for decades), torture techniques involving the WNBA (said technique involves forcing the inquisitorial subject to watch a WNBA game), Scoop Jackson (despite the Watergate-sized “Orange Roundie” flap), reality TV, and all things orange and round?
Plus, everything in “Who Shot Mamba?” works as excellently as something that’s really excellently excellent. Pace deserves two Oscars – one for this film and the second preemptively for “Who Shot Mamba II: Return of the Roundie” – for his scenery-chewing turn as Riggs, a supporting role upon which all others will be based for time immemorial.
Spaeth does the Ben Stiller thing better than Stiller (which actually admittedly isn’t saying much) and Sanborn is a revelation as Thunderbreastinyorkinshire, who can shake souls with her long-suffering looks – and there are many herein; hopefully, too, that Detroit Pistons jersey she sports in the later bits of the movie will be retired, ‘cause no one’s going to make it look as good as she does. Not even Big Ben.
The scriptwriting is sheer genius, with dialogue so crackling it makes Ron Shelton look like Ron Howard. (Robert Rodriguez better hope that Quentin Tarantino never gets a viewing of this film in, or Mr. Dusk Til Dawn might find Q.T. directorially palling around with a new posse.) It is quickly evident that “Who Shot Mamba?” is the savviest satire since the immortal “Team America.” No, since the cinematic medium was invented. No, since Voltaire.
BiE’s first “lol” moment came about 90 seconds in with this exchange against some Tibetanesque background (Though i bet it was shot in Albuquerque, like most of the rest of this film appears to have been):
SHERPA (NOT SKIPPY, THE SHERPA LEADER): What is this that you carry, Merri Sherman?”
MERRI SHERMAN: My people call it a basketball.
SHERPA (NOT SKIPPY, THE SHERPA LEADER): Is it a weapon?
MERRI SHERMAN: In the right hands.
The truth is that “Who Shot Mamba?” deserves to sell more tickets than “Titanic,” “Avatar,” and all the “Star Wars” trilogies combined; there are only two possible reasons to explain why this work of art is not nominated for at least 27 Oscars at tonight’s show:
• Hollywood and its attendant sub-industry of celluloid manufacture is highly concerned that “Who Shot Mamba?” went straight to broadband, as the success of this work surely threatens the very financial infrastructure of the old guard; or
• it is foretold by the followers of the Orange Roundie.
Instead, screenings of “Who Shot Mamba?” are forced into clandestine locations like Orlando, with only scant reportage by dude-that-was-in-Afro-Squad types. No matter: BiE’s Motion Picture of the Millennium is freely available online, thereby justifying the existence of the personal computer. Even if global warming turns out to be 100% fabrication, we can thank Al Gore for at least one significant contribution to the future of humanity, namely the internet, without which “Who Shot Mamba?” would not exist. The YouTube of part one runs below.
Finally, there’s one last thing about “Who Shot Mamba?” that is of stunningly critical importance to the modern average English-speaking sports fan. Bill Walton’s cameo in this film – yes, he’s really in there – is of course critical to the plotline. BiE won’t spoil what role the former big bearded Blazer plays in the movie’s machinations, but suffice to say he dispenses wisdom that’s all about choices. Proclaims the Walton character: “You choose your choice to be chosen.”
Whoa. I mean, holy…
Go ahead, check out BiE’s obsession/former New York Times no. 1 bestseller The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy. You recall correctly: The final chapter of Simmons’ epic tome is devoted to a visit he makes to Walton at his home in San Diego. While he’s there, The Sports Guy excitedly divulges his (correct) theories about “The Secret,” i.e. that giving up the individual ego for the betterment of the team is critical to winning basketball, the scene shifts to the thoughtful Walton:
“It’s not a secret,” he decides, “as much as a choice. Look at the forces fighting against that choice. Look at the forces pushing you to make the other choice, the wrong choice…”
Now look at the introduction to the chapter again (it’s on page 691): written June 2009. Probably right after Walton shot his scene. Or right after he read his part in the script. And now, the philosophy of the Orange Roundie has been absorbed as factual reality into the mind of the most popular writer at the most popular sports-related website in the world, not the mention perhaps the top-selling basketball book of 2009.
Brilliant. Brilliantly brilliant like a brilliant thing that’s totally brilliant.
There will never be another movie as good as “Who Shot Mamba?” Ever. Period.
And remember, kids, like Calvin Stadiums says, stay in school.
Tags: Becky Thunderbreastinyorkinshire, Ben Wallace, Bill Simmons, Bill Walton, Brian Spaeth, Calvin Stadiums, Detroit Pistons, Dominic Pace, Dylan Mooney, ESPN, Merri Sherman, NBA, Orange Roundie, Ron Shelton, Sarah Palin, Scoop Jackson, Stephanie Sanborn, The Basketball Book, Tracy Riggs, Who Shot Mamba?, YouTube