i’ve seen this film more than any other in the last five years. having seen this and hoop dreams again, i think i might need to reconsider which is my favorite documentary. i find that this one is always great because it’s so easy to watch. it’s got a great soundtrack, is well-constructed and covers the entire range of human emotions – from all out laughter to crying at the end. like hoop dreams, it gets to the very core of our life drive – the desire to be better than we are. joan puts it best: “mark wants to be somewhere that he isn’t, but doesn’t everyone want to be somewhere they’re not?” yes. that’s the very thing that makes us better with time. for me, seeing the ups and downs of mark’s pursuit of the american dream is like visiting an old friend. his struggle reminds me of mine and watching him go through it the way he does strengthens my resolve to continue with mine. of course, it’s done with such a degree of humor that it makes life not only seem surmountable, but potentially fun as well; or at least less earth-shattering when things go awry. this lesson isn’t learnt and forgotten with mark, though, we see it in the failed potential and isolated existence of uncle bill and the small victories and innocence of mike schank. hoop dreams takes me on many of the same emotional rides as american movie, but it’s a far more strenuous film to undertake. it’s an hour longer and the ups and downs are so impactful that it’s an emotionally draining picture. in a way, american movie is like the bite-sized, humorous version of hoop dreams and i love it for that.