Review of Michael Jordan to the MAX

Friday, June 30th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

He's been in more commercials than most athletes ever dream of. And now Michael Jordan gets to sell himself in his very own 45-minute spot, a fluffy little IMAX production called Michael Jordan to the Max.

Co-executive produced by Mr. Jordan's agent, David Falk, To the Max has little new to offer NBA fans or to tykes who want to be like Mike.

It will, however, make sports fans salivate at the fantasy of having an IMAX screen installed at home. DirecTV? Whatever. I've got 80-foot shooting guards dunking in my living room.

In terms of content, To the Max unfolds as a glorified highlight film of the Chicago Bulls' 1997-98 title run, the sixth and last of Mr. Jordan's storied career. We also get snippets from the early years, a brief look at his failed attempts to hit the curve ball and interviews with players, coaches and others who attest to the fact that Michael Jordan was a really, really good basketball player.

Actor Laurence Fishburne narrates from a script that, combined with interviews of the man himself, leaves no cliche unexplored. To summarize: Michael Jordan was the last man standing after he left it all out on the court and carried the team on his back as he clawed his way to the top. He may have also played 'em one day at a time and used the talent God gave him, but we'll have to wait for the sequel to be sure.

Let's be honest: The only reason to see To the Max is to get a large eyeful of Jordan. Watch as he flicks another fall-away jumper through the top of the screen and through the net.

Gasp as wills himself to another improbable lay-up. If you need more proof that no one ever did it better, here it is. If you want some shots of greatness as it signs autographs or maneuvers through a crowd, that's here too.

To the Max was blown up from a 35 millimeter print to fit the IMAX format, and the transfer results in some grainy images. The emphasis on the '97-98 season also limits the number of jaw-dropping highlights; Mr. Jordan became a better all-around player as he grew older, but his gravity-defying exploits also decreased.

Just one of those old body-parallel-to-the-floor dunks would have gone a long way.

As it is, To the Max works as a superficial fan letter written for and by this era's greatest athlete. Size doesn't only matter here; it's the only thing that makes To the Max worth watching.

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