This exhilarating, sweetly rendered documentary follows two jump-rope teams as they prepare to compete in the world double dutch championships at Harlem's Apollo Theater. A nearly perfectly assembled film, DOUBLETIME, directed by Stephanie Johnes, uses......more
This exhilarating, sweetly rendered documentary follows two jump-rope teams as they prepare to compete in the world double dutch championships at Harlem's Apollo Theater. A nearly perfectly assembled film, DOUBLETIME, directed by Stephanie Johnes, uses a traditional documentary structure to expertly split the difference between the story of the two young teams, and the origin, history, and thrill of double dutch as a competitive sport. Johnes, to her credit, doesn't shy away from the social, racial, and economic realities that underpin much of the story. The almost all-white (save for internationally renowned freestyle jump roper Timothy Martin) Bouncing Bulldogs from North Carolina come from a considerably more comfortable situation than their rivals in South Carolina, the almost all-black Double Dutch Forces. They're portrayed in particularly stark contrast during the teams' respective trips to New York. The Forces, after driving all day, practice in the only affordable space they can find (an after-hours Popeye's) while the Bulldogs leave days later via airplane and spend leisure time sightseeing in New York. Yet, while the racial and class differences are not glossed over, they also far from dominate the proceedings. Instead, Johnes shows two sets of young people working equally hard to achieve the same goal. The lessons of teamwork, practice, and self-discipline are simple, but they ring true, and make for essential viewing for pre-teens and adolescents.
The true selling-point here is the actual double-dutch action. After a concise summary of both its origins in 1970s New York City and the competing organizations and figures that helped raise the profile of the sport, Johnes turns the cameras to the routines of the various teams competing at the Apollo. To call these performances eye-popping is to do them little justice. The athleticism, style, and ingenuity that takes place on stage is stunning, and provides several stand-up-and-cheer moments.
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