It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Kids can't be Michael Jordan, but they can wear his basketball sneakers, and in their fantasies, the sneakers give them the power to be--like Mike. Sports shoes are one of the most powerful totems in kid society, in part because of M.J.'s TV ads, and "Like Mike" is not merely a good idea for a movie, but an inevitable one.
Lil' Bow Wow (whose name should properly be spelled Li'l' Bow Wow, but never mind) stars as Calvin Cambridge, an orphan who comes into possession of a pair of faded Nikes with the initials "MJ" written inside the tongue. We might doubt that Jordan writes his initials in his shoes (and if he does, he probably has someone to do it for him), but Calvin has no doubts, not even when the shoes are a perfect fit, which seems unlikely.
He lives in an orphanage that seems to be running as a profitable scam. His best buddy is Murph (Jonathan Lipnicki), and his worst enemy is Ox (Jesse Plemons). Ox throws the sneakers so they hang by their laces from a power line, Calvin climbs up a tree in a storm to retrieve them, lightning strikes, and somehow the sneakers and the lightning magically combine to make him like Mike.
Really like Mike. The kind coach of the local NBA team (Robert Forster) gives Calvin some tickets to a game, he ends up in a halftime shooting contest with an NBA star and, wearing the sneakers, outshoots the star so dramatically that the team owner signs him up--as a gimmick, of course, although Calvin is soon in the starting lineup and leading his team to the finals. Wearing the magic sneakers, he makes Air Jordan look like a puddle jumper.
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