Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Now on Netflix: At All Costs (2016)

At All Costs (2016) - Directed by Mike Nicoll

By Kenny Howell

A look inside AAU, the summer basketball leagues that make or break young basketball talent across the United States.

The documentary focuses mostly on one team, the Compton Magic, and mostly on one player, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who is now a junior at Arizona.

The documentary loosely examines all about the AAU system, mostly that it isn't very regulated. It works outside the high school system, so it is the main chance to get seen by major college coaches. It also stacks players up against the best out there, so it gives those coaches the chance to see these kids play against the other kids they will be playing once they get into college.

On the flip side, it allows people to make money off these kids. Shoe companies sponsor these teams, so it is an opportunity for shoe companies to get the best young talent in America in their shoes. Maybe one day if they become big stars, the companies will be able to secure their rights to have their own shoe.


Jackson-Cartwright is the driving focus of the movie as you really get a peek into what this life entails for a high school age player trying to achieve greatness. That means after your high school season is over, you fly all over the country from camp to camp, then play with your summer league teams all the way up to time for you to go back to school. It becomes a year round job for these kids, but it is what it takes nowadays to get to the school where you want to go. Jackson-Cartwright seems like a good kid with a well intentioned, loving, but a bit overbearing father who thinks he has it all figured out for his kid.

At All Costs touches on a lot of things and gives a pretty good overview of the whole system and how kids are discovered these days. I think it could have focused on a few things and examined them a bit deeper, especially the effect this has on the kids. Jackson-Cartwright seems like a pretty reserved, evenhanded kid, so it is hard to get a read on how he is handling everything. But the idea of ranking these kids against each other to see who is the best in the nation, really has to have an effect on them. This is talked about for a few minutes in the film about how it may effect the psyche of a kid if they are ranked too high and don't live up to expectations. I think that is interesting, and would have liked to hear a bit more about it.

Still, if you don't know much about this world, At All Costs does a good job of introducing you to just what it takes to succeed these days.

At All Costs is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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