Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Adam: Before I get into a short plot synopsis, I’ll start by saying why I wanted us to review this movie. In large part, it’s because I need to write about it with another person to confirm I actually saw what I think I saw. This is a weird movie. Like, the weirdest. Slamma Jamma tells the story of Michael Diggs (played by Chris Staples), who was a basketball phenom at USC but went to jail for six years for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Newly released, Michael tries to make ends meet with service jobs but also has his sights set higher since he’s still got hops. You see, there are two dunk tournaments coming up, the final one being “Slamma Jamma,” where the best dunkers in the world gather to see who’s top dog.
What did you think of Slamma Jamma and did it live up to my comparison to The Room? If it weren’t so square I think this could easily be midnight movie fodder.
Rob: How about when Michael eats the spaghetti his mom left without heating it up? Or when his boss fires him after two weeks because he never actually read Michael’s application? How about the little person dunker and the badass lady dunker, both of whom steal the movie and then disappear after half a scene? Or how the hype man at the dunk contests keeps yelling, “Clap! Clap! Clap!” at the audience? What about the old lady who hangs out at the assault rifle store in the middle of the night? Why did Red even recruit Michael for that robbery if he was just going to shoot the clerk anyway? To charm and distract him? How about when Michael Irvin loses his mind on a reporter, threatening to “sue [him] until he pays [him] with the seams in [his] jeans”? What does that mean? Or the fact that gang members use the term “gang member” in dialogue? How about when Michael’s friends tell him, “You just have to do one dunk, and you’ll win! Any dunk will do. Nothing fancy is required,” and Michael proceeds — with a million dollars on the line — to attempt “the impossible dunk”? He wins, sure, but why risk it with no stakes? How about when the doctor tells Michael that his mother’s insurance doesn’t cover a private room, and then the VP of the hospital walks in OUT OF NOWHERE just to tell him the same thing? How about when the Slamma Jamma announcers refer to the German guy as “the German guy”? HOW ABOUT THE JAMMER? You know, the trash-talking, Canada-livin’, masters-in-education-havin’ JAMMER!? WHAT ABOUT HIM!?
This movie, Adam. I’m so glad you brought this into my life. There’s just so much. Your comparison to something like The Room is totally apt, though. I did a little research, and according to director Timothy A. Chey’s Wiki (which he definitely wrote himself), his films feature appearances by the likes of Pam Grier, Tricia Helfer, Tom Sizemore, Malcolm McDowell, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stephen Baldwin, and William Sadler. I’m willing to bet that none of those people appear in their respective films for more than a few scenes, which means that Chey — despite having zero idea how to make a movie — is a connected guy with deep pockets looking to get into Hollywood the only way he can. I have no idea if he’ll get there, but I do know he made one of my new favorite midnight movies.
Adam: YES! What the fuck is “Danza Kuduro” doing in this movie? That’s like having a filet mignon served to you in a DMV. How about the fact that the film is produced by Hyderabad Talkies (that’s the real name of the production company) and at the “Skid Row Slam Dunk Contest” (that’s the real name of a dunk contest in this movie) there’s a table with a Hyderabad Talkies tablecloth, or when Michael wins Slamma Jamma and gets an oversized check from the very same Hyderabad Talkies? Or when he’s offered a five-year contract by Flyless Airlines to do...some...job? Why would an airline want you to fly less? And then an agent offers him a contract in the NBA because Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks) was watching, but it’s never specified that he’ll play for Cuban’s Mavericks, just that he’ll play in the NBA and make millions (and have a career like he’ll never believe) even though the only shot he has ever attempted is a fucking dunk! I have more but I’ll let you continue.
Rob: “Mark Cuban called!” They kept repeating it! They were all so excited, and no one even talked to him! Also, did Jose Canseco know that the film was going to punk him so hard? As a judge, he takes a payoff to change his score — in full view of the crowd, commentators, and competitors — and then tells a kid to go screw and let his heroes die because fuck you? I thought for sure that he’d be given some sort of redeeming moment in the end. Did I miss it? Why would Canseco take this role?
Adam: Vanity. They announce him as a Hall of Famer even though he’s not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Isn’t there a baseball player code where you’re not supposed to do that? Speaking of Canseco, he takes a bribe to up the dunk contest score of Craig Jackson, an NBA player who inexplicably doesn’t hang out with NBA players, but rather playground scrubs and who Kanye Wests their Slamma Jamma tournament. BTW, why is Michael Diggs allowed to play for the national championship of dunking when he only placed second in a local dunk competition? I want to see a whole movie about Jammer, because if he’s won the million dollar Slamma Jamma three times then he’s a multi-millionaire teacher with a graduate degree. Why is the movie not about him? Also, Rob, they’re “sports critics,” not announcers. And they lose their mind over the same three dunks that happen over and over and over in this movie.
Rob: I had no idea what was governing the scoring process. Didn’t Michael get perfect 40s on his first three dunks? How do you build drama and tension after that? Actually, I love the part when he’s like, “Hmm, how can I really stand out among this field of talents? I know! I’ll jump over a dude AND a motorcycle!” And someone just gives him a motorcycle! That was bananas. How about the confrontation outside the club between the villainous Craig Jackson and that random girl we’ve never met? I like the part where she punches him for calling her something very crass, even though she declared herself “available” after hearing that he had $25 million. Good for her. What about when all the friends get together for a leisurely jog through the cemetery? Did Michael invite everyone to come see his mom’s grave? That’s the scene where his friend says, “You know, Michael, your mom would really want you to win this.” Thanks, dicknose. I get it.
Michael: “Here’s my application?”
Manager: “I don’t have time to read this right now.”
Michael: “I’ll be a real good worker.”
Manager: “Ok, we’ll give it a shot. Can you start right now?”
Then there’s a scene later when Michael is working in a diner and two plates break, so someone comes out to make an announcement that everything is fine, it’s just two plates that broke. And the grocery store’s process of recycling is interesting - break down the boxes and throw them on the ground outside beside the dumpster. Also, why does everyone in this movie not know who Michael is at first, then remembers suddenly who he is and his points per game average? Why did they cast a man who clearly has herpes of the mouth as the gun store owner? Why is Michael Irvin looking for the next big NBA client on a playground? Why is the priest like Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 From Outer Space? What is the woman playing the lawyer doing? It’s not acting. I know that much. Why, when Michael’s mom is coding in the hospital, does none of the hospital staff come into the room? Why do the gang members offer Michael $2,500 and then drop it on the ground and walk away after he refuses it? Why does one of the gang members not have a handgun but rather a sawed-off shotgun? I love this movie. I’m voting Mark Ahn.
Rob: I like when the one kid says, “Oh yeah, you were arrested for robbery,” and Irvin goes, “Good to know that some things never die.” What the fuck does that mean? Like, rumors? Reputation? It’s not like Irvin has some kind of grudge or incentive to keep Michael down. He worships the dollar, remember? And he hates CHEAP REPORTERS! Another line I like is when the lawyer, consoling Michael after his long prison sentence, says, “Sometimes the justice is dead on arrival.” And what is the gang-banging little brother even doing? Their mom says he’s in trouble, but we don’t see him do anything. I guess it’s that “clean slate” thing that Michael does with the piece of paper later? Like, he still has time? The gang leader just lets him go, like he wasn’t much use anyway. I guess Michael saved the day. This movie is insane, and I love it. Mark Ahn.
Rob: I think I’m going with either of the two friends. Maybe Michael Hardy as Brandon, the goofball who doesn’t understand metaphors. I liked him. And my vote for the next Chey film is Live Fast, Die Young, the story of a group of A-list Hollywood actors who seek redemption after the accidental death of one of their own. The tagline is: “Wealth...Sex...Fame...God...Which Would You Choose?” I’m in.
Adam: My picks are Rosemarie Smith-Coleman as Michael’s mother or Michael Cognata as the head of the gang members. They seem like actual working actors. I’m so ready for more Chey. I want to also watch Fakin’ Da Funk. It stars Rufio, Winston Zenmore, Jackie Brown, Margaret Cho and Tone Loc. Want to review another Pacino next week?
Rob: Yeah, but give me some time to pick it. I need to rewatch Slamma Jamma. Also, my signature dunk would definitely be where I jump into the air and do the “perfect cast” move from A Goofy Movie before dunking. What’s yours?
Adam: This! Until next time…fuck it, let’s review A Goofy Movie next week. Reserved Seating is about following our muse.
Rob: I sure hope we see things Eye to Eye! These seats are reserved.