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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Doubletime

Like all great documentaries, this film from director Stephanie Johnes takes the audience into a world they probably know very little about, in this case the world of competitive jump roping as embodied by two very different points of view. The Bouncing Bulldogs of North Carolina are purists who showcase athleticism over style in their single jump ropes routines. The Double Dutch Forces of South Carolina use style, swagger and two jump ropes to match their movements to a hip-hop soundtrack. The two philosophies collide when the squads are invited to compete in a jump rope showcase at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Johnes does a great job of building the viewer’s interest in the sport and in the athletes as they prepare for the big contest, balancing insightful interviews with lots of footage of the teams practicing and perfecting their routines. By the time they get to Harlem, you know these athletes and their coaches so well you almost feel bad for rooting for one team over the other, which makes the final faceoff very powerful to watch.

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