A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Gabby Douglas Story


As you may or may not have heard, a little show called The Gabby Douglas Story was on Lifetime this weekend.  Was it glorious?  How glorious was it?  On a scale of 1-10, how glorious was it?  Glorious.


We open with the requisite grips and chalk backlit in front of a dark backdrop shot.  It's not a gymnastics production without one.  Look at that chalk fly.  That's how you know it's serious.

Voiceover Gabbo, while we look at multiple angles of the Olympic champion.


We get a montage of actual NBC Olympic footage, which is impressive.  I thought NBC was a total bitch about that stuff.  But oh yeah, they own Lifetime, so whatever.

Fade to black with some Lifetime twinkly twinkly music.  Fade in to Gabby being born, in what was apparently a traumatic birth.  Having had my own frightening birth story about eight months ago, I'm not quick to scoff at this one.  But then we get a nice big gratuitous placenta shot, and I'm done.


Mmmm, placenta.  We learn that Mama Douglas, aka Natalie Hawkins, almost died during childbirth.  And in her first act of selflessness, she doesn't really give a shit, and wants to know about her baby.  Again, not trying to downplay that, but I'm pretty sure every mother on this planet Earth would react the same way.  What is surprising is that Gabby is born with some sort of something or another called branched-chain ketoaciduria.  Well that was a bitch to google.  Also called maple syrup urine disease.  Yummy.

Nevermind all that, because now we're in a van down by the river.  And by the river I mean in the middle of nowhere.  The other children, who we learn are perfect in every way and never fight or cause mischief, are quietly playing in the back.  Mama and Papa Dougie are up front, trying to figure out what the eff they're going to do.  They've been evicted 48942390 times, so no one will rent to them anymore.  They stay at a cheap motel, which lucky for them has a super state of the art TV, which would have been a super spendy non-existent novelty in 1996.


That sort of TV was all the rage in the early 00's.  Unfortunately, their stay in luxury doesn't last, because now they're living in the van again.  Papa D suggests they call Mama's mother, which would suck but at least they wouldn't be homeless?  Mama puts the kibosh on that, because no way in hell she's calling her mother AGAIN.  The van is a perfectly nice place to raise four children.  But then after a little more thought, she's like "Actually, yes.  I will call my mother.  The kids and I are going to stay with her.  Peace out."  Papa D is like "But but but, we can go on assistance.  Food stamps!"  but Mama D flips out and is like "Oh hell no.  Never.  Don't ever mention the words food stamps to me ever.  Ever."  

We finally roll up to Grandmama D's house, which must have taken a year or so because now Baby Dougie is walking.  Mama D gets back on her feet, and gets a job as a debt collector, which she's pretty damned good at.  Suddenly, it's six years later, and the perfect children are running around the yard.


Young Gabby D is watching Perfect Sister Arielle do various handstands and cartwheels, and is obsessed.  She can do all those tricks, in fact, she can do them even better. 


You know, for years I bitched about hiring actors who couldn't do gymnastics instead of hiring gymnasts who could sort of act.  So I really, truly do appreciate that Young Gabby D is an actual gymnast.  I do.  But why is she 800 feet taller than her older brother and sisters?


She's HUGE!  Mama D rolls up and shuffles the prefect children inside to do their homework, which of course they do with nary a fuss.  After homework time, we get out first glimpse of the legendary vision board, which will make many, many cameos throughout the film.


Per Mama D, this is the secret to life.  "God helps those who help themselves."  She asks the kids how do they think they all got here, here being this point in life, I'm assuming?  Perfect brother John is all "We rented a truck, dummy."  Perfect Sister Joyelle (I totally just got it.  Joyelle, Arielle, and Gabrielle.  ELLE.) corrects him, "God helped us rent the truck."  I'm sure he did, Joy.  I'm sure he did. 

The next day, Young Gabby D is doing a beam routine on the couch, as one does, when she starts busting lamps, so she and Perfect Brother John get chased outside by Mama D.  Outside, an untrained Young Gabby D does a lovely front walkover (Tinsica?  Hard to tell) into backhandsprings.  Delicious. 


My wrists hurt just watching that.  The poor girl must have had to do a good number of takes.  Mama D watches from the window, and is caught off guard because her untrained daughter can do some serious shit.

That evening, Mama D and Perfect Sister Arielle (who I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life, and she is actually pretty damned perfect.) are gluing a chair back together, or a table maybe, something that Young Gabby D broke.  Upstairs, we hear a crash, which of course is Young Gabby D breaking something else.  something full of glass.  Perfect Sister Arielle is like "Mama, just put her in gymnastics already.  Let her learn it the right way (ARE YOU LISTENING, MYKAYLA SKINNER), before she hurts herself."  A perfectly valid argument.

Soon enough, we find ourselves at a real life gymnastics gym.  After years of watching Make It or Break it, imagine my surprise to see gymnastics, real life gymnastics happening in the background!  No lounging about, fake stretching. 


That was my face too.  The gym is called Equilibrium Gymnastics, heretofore referred to as NOT Excalibur Gymnastics.  Totally not Excalibur.  Young Gabby D races into the gym, and does the worlds most annoying thing, which is running all around, interrupting drills. 


Seriously, that shit drives me insane.  She runs all around and does some impressive stuff, while the two coaches, Not Gustavo and Not Dena, are impressed.


They immediately make plans for Young Gabby D.  TOPS, Dev, elite in five years. 

It's a year later, and Young Gabby D is off to yet another competition.  She's picked up by her carpool, which is of course is driven by an angry Aryan family.


That evening, the Perfect Children are sitting at the table doing homework while Mama D touches up the vision board.  She's also on the phone with the pharmacy, discussing how her prescription doesn't work.  We don't know what it's a prescription for, or what the ailment is, but we're to assume it's bad bad BAD.  Whoever is on the phone suggests "more sleep" as a viable suggestion, and I totally painfully snorted at this point.  As a mother, the whole JUST GET MORE SLEEP thing cracks my shit up.  Just get more sleep!  Alrighty roo!  Let me just neglect my child.

And we're back at the gym.  Not Gustavo Moure is giving a super technical lesson on how to do a kip.  His expertise includes lecturing about concentration, and about how if you don't master a kip RIGHT NOW, you will never be a good gymnast.


Angry Blonde Girl, or totally Not Randal, makes a low blow by calling Young Gabby D "too short."  Ouchie, I guess?  But not really.  Not Randal gets called up to do a kip, which she kind of sucks at.


Oh dear.  But props because yet again, it appears they hired a girl who knew how to do a kip in real life.  I love it.  But yeah, she sucks at the kid, so Not Gustavo tells Young Gabby D to come up and do it.  Of course, she does it perfectly.


Mama D is slugging more pills as she folds laundry.  She's folding Young Gabby D's clothes when a bunch of money falls out of her pockets.  Mama D is naturally confused, so she confronts the Perfect Children about it.  They explain that they were charging the less than perfect school kids to watch Young Gabby D do gymnastics, so sort of like prostitution for gymnastics.  Mama D understandably has an issue with that, so she demands the money be returned.  The stresses the Perfect Children out, because they know money is tight.  They discuss it while they all wash the dishes, which all Perfect Children do.  They tell Young Gabby D that they are willing to give up their sports so that Young G can stay in hers.  They tell her that she's the best, and nods knowingly, thinking "Yes, I am the best, aren't I?" 

Mama D sneaks into Young Gabby D's room to tuck her in (which again, as a mother, is the most motherly thing to do.  I never feel like more of a mom than when I sneak into my son's room to check on him while he's sleeping.)  Young Gabby D has fallen asleep while reading her idol's book.


My first response was disbelief.  Surely if a Dominique Dawes book existed, I would know about it.  I assumed it was a delicious autobiography where she detailed her fabled war with Shannon Miller.  Nope, it's a kids book written by one of the bitches from Focus on the Family.  Why don't you focus on my middle finger.  Gross gross gross.

Back at the gym, Young Gabby D is doing V-ups (with her legs bent?  What are those called?  Can't recall.) while her not-so-bitchy teammates cheer her on.  Not Gustavo and Mama D are walking through the middle of the gym, which seemingly all parents must do in such shows, discussing how to qualify Young GD to elite.  Not Gustavo points out another Angry White Girl, Britney, who is already a junior elite.  Mama D is like "Uh, well, Britney's dad runs a bank." Not Gustavo gives two shits about money, and is all "If you loved your child, you would go into debt for her gymnastics."  Young Gabby D is still doing conditioning, to the loud cheers of her teammates, which angers Angry White Girl Britney.  She needs to concentrate, after all.

Ooh, now we're at the 2008 Visa Championships.  Remember when they were called Visas?  Good times, good times.  Young Gabby D is competing in her first year as a junior elite.  One of my favorite parts of this movie is that they matched the leos from way back when.


I mean really.  How cute is that.  Everything else in the movie might be a slightly less than factual, but damnit, they got the leos right.  In fact, they matched the meet right down to her ending floor pose.


I can't even.  They show "Gabby Davis" (I feel like this happened in real life?  Maybe at Classics?  Or probably something Tim Dagget said.) doing a super difficult single back tuck off of beam.   But now it's time for bars!  And this wouldn't be a movie about gymnastics without the intense "I'm doing bars!" shot.


Do that giant.  She does a giant right into a tucked Nastia, aka single tucked flyaway.  I understand that the real life Gabby D did the stunts for this, but I saw way too many step downs for my liking.  There are at least two in every routine.  No me gusta.

Mama D and Young Gabby D are in the stands watching the seniors, which of course means watching the legendary Shawn Johnson.  Again, we see a smattering of real NBC footage, doing her Amanar.  Remember when she was the only one in the US doing one?  LULZ.  Mama D tells Young Gabby D that that will be her one day.


The gals roll up to their hotel room.  Mama D is excited about how nice the room is, but Young Gabby D doesn't give a shit because she sucks at bars.  Mama D responds by telling her that if she's not having any fun, they can just quit gymnastics and sell all her leotards on Ebay.  That wakes young Gabby D up.  Not the leotards!


Mama D encourages Young Gabby D to unwind with a bath, because frankly, she stinks.  Mama D bathes her, which I can't decide whether or not I find that creepy, since she's 12.  Young Gabby D begs her mom for a dog, which Mama D absolutely refuses.

Next shot, Mama D is carrying a young puppy.  She hands the young pup, named Zoey, to Young Gabby D before she heads off to work.  Young Gabby D reminds her to be home on time, because the OLYMPIC TRIALS are TONIGHT!  The trials start, and all of the Perfect Children are riveted.


Again, we get an interesting blend of real NBC footage and cheaply shot side footage.  I'm not sure why they could show footage, but couldn't air the real commentary or music. 


Young Gabby D sees Coach Chow.


It is obsession at first sight.  She stares awkwardly at the TV, which is uncomfortable enough to the point that Perfect Sister Arielle has to ask her if she's OK. 


Young Gabby D says the now infamous statement "That's my coach." referring to Chow, of course.  She also informs her family that she is going to go to the 'lympics.  Because of course she is.

Next, we see her running with her dog, Zoey.  More motivational babble in the voiceover.  Young Gabby D morphs into Big Gabby D, still running with that dog.


Here we can really see the effect that hiring a non-gymnast has.  This actress runs in a HILARIOUS fashion.  And by run, I mean full on sprint.


I can't stop laughing.  Also, she's become one of the more developed 14 year olds.  She hauls ass back home.

We catch her next at the gym, where she's begging Not Gustavo to let her train an amanar.


Not Gustavo tells her to eff off, and stop trying to get better at gymnastics.  Gabby's rebuttal: "How am I supposed to get anywhere if you don't believe in me?"  Yet another Angry White Girl sassily replies "Like the Olympics?"  Psshhhh.  As if.

We find ourselves at the 2010 Visa Championships.  Remember when Rebecca Bross and Mattie Larson were the top of the field?  Le sigh.

We get a bunch of generic commentary about lines and confidence from the fake commentators during Gabby's UB routine.


Oh god, the matching.  Gabby takes a huge step on the landing, while the fake commentators warble on about how well she stuck the landing.  No.  Fake Gustavo gives Gabby a high five, remarking how surprised he was that she hit the routine.

Back at home, Mama D and the Perfect Children are all having supper.  Gabby's still wondering what the eff Not Gustavo meant by "surprised she pulled it off."  The phone rings, and Perfect Brother John goes to answer it.  It's the pharmacy.  The Perfect Children all exchange worried glances, while Mama D reassures them that she just needs her prescription changed.  Gabby complains that Not Gustavo won't let her upgrade, and that he doesn't believe in her.  But she knows that Coach Chow would never say any of that.  Perfect Sister Joyelle is all "Awesome.  Now we're going to talk about Coach Chow all night.  Again."

Mama D is waiting in line at the bank when she starts to feel unwell.  She asks another lady to hold her spot in line, which I'm fairly certain no one would ever be nice enough to actually do, so she can go cool off.  However, on her way, she falls down, and she takes the entire bowl of fruit with her.


OH GOD NOT THE FRUIT!  The Perfect Children are at home, awaiting their mother's return from the doctor.  It turns out Mama D had a bad reaction to the medicine, and needs to stop working so that she can rest.  Again, we are not privy to the actual condition from which she suffers.  I too have a condition.  It's called My Baby Never Sleeps Disease.  It's very painful.  Grandmama D explains to the Perfect Children that because Mama D's not working, money is going to be very tight until her disability checks kick in.


Gabby D is stressing about Chow, and still trying to figure out how to get to him.  So, naturally, she has an anger-induced workout at the gym alone at night.  Because of course she does. 


SUP DOUGIE.  Gabby D angrily does her 2012 choreography.  She also does an L turn that is NOT CUTE. 


They show Gabby D marching into what looks to be a high level competition, but that's all it is?  Like, she just marches in, end of scene.

The Perfect Children are again sitting around the table doing homework.  Mama D is sorting through her mail, when she comes upon an envelope from the state of Virginia.  It is the dreaded EBT card, otherwise known as

 FOOD STAMPS. 

Worst. Thing.  Ever.   Gabby D is sulking around Not Exalibusted when she is stopped short by a poster hanging on the wall. 


 Well sit on my butt and punch me in the boob, the glorious COACH CHOW was going to be in her very own gym!  Gabbo races home to beg her mother to let her attend the clinic.  Mama D gladly gives her permission to go, and tells her she'll find the money for the clinic somehow.  


Gabby is doing a very lovely and super effective stretch when it happens.  The man.  The myth.  The legendary COACH MOTHERFUCKING CHOW arrives to the gym.  And by arrives, I mean struts. 


I actually snorted so hard it hurt my brain.  This entrance literally cost me brain cells. 

Chow has the girls sit down, and tells them that they are about to discuss music.  


Chow suggests that the gymnasts think about music, and themselves as instruments.  "The steady beats... and then, THE CRESCENDO!"  Which may work for gymnastics, but I know for a fact that it works for sex.  Just saying.  

He asks the girls how many of them do doubles, which every girls answers that, yes, they do.  Next, he asks who is ready to learn the amanar.  All those hands go down, while Gabby shoots hers up even higher.  

Perhaps the trick to a successful amanar is not to do any sort of warming up or timers.  Just get up off your ass with fresh legs and chuck that shit.  

He kindly asks Gabby if she will show him the DTY, unassumingly to make sure she can do it.  She does it, again, sans warmup, and does it quite well.  So he brings her in close to teach her the ancient Chinese secret to the magical amanar vault.  The secret is... stay in for that extra half twist.


OH MY GOSH it worked!  Who knew??  OH GOD now Russia will know our biggest secret!  Someone must alert Martha immediately.

Suddenly we cut to Gabby D sprinting in that hilarious way she does all the way home.  She races up the steps screaming "MAMAMAMAMAMAMA I did the amanar!!!"  Saints be praised.  So Mama D's all "Super duper.  Now back to Not Gustavo." to which Gabby D replies "Um, as IF.  If Coach Chow taught me this in 30 seconds, imagine how much he could teach me in two years!"   And then, THEN, Perfect Child Gabrielle Douglas does SASS HER MOTHER by retorting "I'm going to train with Chow.  I don't care what you say."  UNFORGIVABLE BEHAVIOR.  No child of mine mutters under her breath at me, no sir.

The following day, Gabby D is training with Not Gustavo back at Not Excalibusted.  She keeps hitting her feet on the floor after her pak, so Not Gustavo gives her a very technical correction.  "Pick up your feet.  That's .5 off of your score!"  Well you don't say.  Gabby argues "This isn't working!  I've done it a billion times.  It's. Not. Working."  So Not Gustavo is all "Maybe you're just not trying."  So Gabby D is all "Maybe you just suck balls, ball sucker!"  

In a delightful mixup (read: FATE) Chow's ride to the airport didn't show up, so who should get to drive him there but Miss Mama D herself.  Gabby D knows this is her chance, so she begs Mama D to talk her up to him.   Mama D does chat with him, but she asks him about his past in gymnastics.  How did he get into gymnastics anyway?  He gives the cliched story about being ripped from the womb and being sold into gymnastics slavery, all for the pride of his country.  TO BRING HOME GOLD MEDALS! (Mo Huilan fluff reference.  Look it up.)  I'm assuming this prompts somewhat of a come to Jesus moment for Mama D.  Maybe sending her youngest daughter to Iowa for two years wouldn't be that bad. 

Once Mama D gets home, Gabby D grills her about her chat with Coach "I'm full of ancient Chinese secrets" Chow.  Mama D says it was just small talk, about his life, mostly.  Gabby D is appalled, and cries out "What about the most important thing in the whole wide world?!  ME ME ME!!!"  Then she threatens to quit gymnastics, goes on a hunger strike, and stops talking to her mother.


Mama D and Grandmama D are having a little iced tea (with no ice?  Is that a thing?  Gross.) and chatting about how stubborn that silly Gabby is.  The ponder whether or not Gabby's gift from God is a blessing or a burden.  #firstworldproblems

Perfect Brother John and Gabby D are laying outside on a blanket, looking at the stars, and talking about, what else, but Coach Chow.  Obsessed much?

But little do we all know, at that very moment, a miracle is happening.  Sally and TOTALLY NOT TRAVIS PARTON approach Coach of All Chinese Secrets Chow, and let him know that should a gifted yet underprivileged gymnast ever want to move to Iowa to train with him, that they would be happy to be a host family.


OK.  Important topic:  The real Travis Parton is hot hot HOT.  This shame nobody fake Travis is an offense to all the senses.

THIS is the real Travis Parton.

 
I would so call him Daddy.  So anyway, Sally and Abomination Travis chat with Coach Chow, and he's like "OK then."  Meanwhile, Gabby stares at the stars, which are rather plentiful given that it's in the middle of the city.


I'm pretty sure you can totally see the Milk Way from Virginia Beach.

The next day, Perfect Sister Arielle is pressing Mama D to call Coach of Ancient Chinese Mysteries Chow to talk about Gabby.  Mama D reluctantly does, and is immediately told by Chow that he just so happens to have a host family for her and everything.  Mama D is like "Oh shit."


Gabby D mulls over what to pack, and before she knows it, she's about to get into the car on her way to Iowa.  Perfect Brother John is acting as any scorned lover would, and refuses to say goodbye to Gabby.


Gabby is finally in Iowa, at the Mecca that is Chow's Institute of Gymnastics and Dance.  And Ancient Chinese Secrets.  She just then realizes that she had been slumming it at Not Excalibusted, because this gym was the TITS.  Coach of All Ancient Mysteries introduces the Dougli to his beautiful wife, Li.  Chow of Chinese Secrets asks Gabby if this was what she wanted.  She says "I WANT to go to the Olympics!  And I want to win."  Coach Chinese Chinaman laughs heartily, because, see, every single girl at that gym has the exact same want.  "This one here?  She's been saying the words Olympic Gold since she was in the womb.  The murmurs came over the ultrasound."  Gabby begs him to believe in her, and reiterates that she is willing to work very, very hard.  Good thing, because she starts tomorrow!


The Partons show the Dougli around the house, and introduce them to their army of little girls.  Before dinner, seemingly of the most delicious spinach salad with strawberries (#spinachporn) Fake Unattractive Travis leads a prayer.


Gabby is judging.  The following day, Mama D is getting ready to say goodbye.  Gabby D is reconsidering her choice, and asks Mama D where all the black people are.  Mama D's like "Your guess is as good as mine.  BYE!"  


Gabby is sad for a minute or two, but there isn't much time to waste.  She is immediately at the gym with the Chows, studying their plan of attack for the next two years.


Basically, it all starts with 2011 Visas in Saint Paul (Hey girl hey!!), then 2012 SCAM.  No mention whatsoever of 2012 Visas, and apparently the main goal is the 2012 Olympic Trials.  Game on.

Cue generic training montage, filled with Gabby D and her hilarious running.


Lots of Gymnova equipment around these parts.  How Canadian of them.  Chow has to spot Gabby during some conditioning.  Methinks GD would be able to do a V-up on her own, yes?


I mean really.  We see the youngest Doug working on her now infamous floor choreo, when the real Dougie pops in to do some leaps for us.


We're treated to a really awkward shot of Gabs dribbling water all down her leotard.


That's what you get when you train in ill-fitting long sleeved leotards, I suppose.

But that leotard is nowhere near as horrifying as this Christmas thing she wears with the rest of the family.


No.  Don't the ruffles chafe as you sleep?  I'm actually cringing and shuddering over here.  But we get it, she's part of the family, and the army of daughters all wear the same horrific nightgown thing.

More training fluff.  It's shortly before the 2011 Visa Shitshow Championships, and the gals (including a total Mustafina lookalike) are cooling down on beam while Gabbo goes over more choreography.


NO. NO. NO.  Also, that flag doesn't seem to have many stars.  Crouching Tiger Hidden Chow is working on leaps with Doug, instructing her on a switch ring-switch half.  They show about 40 different angles of her hitting the now ubiquitous switch ring.  However, on her way down, she lands funny on her ankle, which somehow translates to just destroying her hamstring. 


Coach Chow screams "GABBY!!!" and runs to her.  He yells at Li to get some ice, which she runs off to do, but then runs back without ice.


Look at that pain register on her face.  A real thespian, this one. 

Despite being told to rest her leg, Gab is doing a zillion chin ups on a bar installed in the doorway of her bedroom.  It's apparently late at night.  In any other Lifetime movie, this scene would be followed by a parent discovering a closet full of barf jars.  But since she's a super dedicated athlete, Fake Daddy Parton just shrugs and tells Sally how determined the girl is. 

Too bad so sad, because it's time for the 2011 Visas.  Gabby is about to mount beam as the commentators allude to her scary fall during warmups.


I took this video with my cell phone, and you can hear me yammering on about why I loved Dougie so much, and then screaming appropriately when this happened.


Again, let's have a quick looksee at the leotards.


Yassss.  Unfortunately, GD's mind is elsewhere as she stands there with her arms raised for about four minutes.


I mean, this guy with his potato chips, this other guy is stomping down the stairs in his clodhoppers.  And then the voice of one Angry Blonde Girl rings in her head, "Unless you're too short."  Yes.  I'm sure all elite gymnasts are worried about being too short.  They juxtapose between crummy arena shots and actual NBC footage.  It's kind of cool, I'm not going to lie.  Now I'm sure we all remember, Doug falls not once, not twice, but thrice.  They couldn't use the Trio, but they could read their lines?  Not Tim uses the same line "This is one of those meets..."  Yeah I have the NBC commentary memorized, so what.  We see disappointed glances from Mama D, from Perfect Brother John, and even the dog.

 Gabby is enjoying a lovely cup of cocoa from her lovely host mother and her NOT TRAVIS PARTON FAKE WANNABE DAD.  They have a lovely chat, smiles and giggles abound.  A voiceover begins telling us that she has an "overwhelming awareness that who I really was didn't belong there."  Care to tell us WHY you have this overwhelming awareness?  No?  OK.  On we go, I guess.

It's nighttime at the gym, because obviously, and Ancient Chinese Coach of all Mysteries is giving away more secrets.  "The secret is... to keep your hips square."  Oh Russians!  You can come and steal our medals now!  Gabby walks away from the beam without a word.  After about 2 1/2 steps, Coach Secrets comes racing after her, screaming at her not to do this.  What if this was getting a drink of water, or going to the bathroom?  Nope, this actually was Gabby peacing out.  My bad.


Ah, the legendary text to Mama D.  All of a sudden we're at a meet, some unidentified podium meet.  Now, Dougie supposedly almost quit somewhere around/after Christmas, right?  So I'm thinking there are zero elite podium meets at that time.  So suck a dick, Lifetime.  Spanny- 1, Lifetime- 0. 

This whole scene takes place at this imaginary Christmas podium meet.  Gabby walks back into the tunnels inside the imaginary arena, and give her a phone with her message typed out; the message seen above.  Oh wait, there was more.

Gymnastics is not my 
passion anymore. 
I want to......quit.

That's actually how it.... looked.  
Needless to say, Mama D was not down with that.  She's all "Girl, you were born exceptional, you have been exceptional, you will bee exceptional, and you will die exceptional."  Then she goes on about how wanting to quit would be dishonorable?  All snark aside, I don't understand that.  And then she makes sure Gabby knows how many hearts she's going to break.  Like Mama D, Grandmama D, the Perfect Siblings, Coach of All Chinese Secrets, the Partons and their army of daughters, the dog.  Broken hearts.  All of them.  Destroyed.  

Everyone basically looks like someone died, while Gabby is in her room, joyfully chatting with Perfect Brother John.


They really committed to that, didn't they?  Anyway, Perfect Brother John talks her off of the ledge.  He tells her she can finally open the thing she's not supposed to open.


Awesome?  He also sends her a picture of the much alluded to vision board.  This was all she needed, I suppose.

We find ourselves back at Chow's, in the middle of a pack of girls working on back walkovers.  Coach Li is actually instructing them, but Coach Dragon interrupts them to ask them what the most important thing about gymnastics is.  Do you know what it is?  FUN.  FUNNNNNNN!  The gymnasts extras laugh in his face as if to say "You are not real, stop pretending to exist."  In that moment, Gabby makes her grand re-entrance into the gym.  No words are said, just knowing glances and nods are exchanged.

And blammo, we're in NYC for 2012 SCAM.  Coach Chinese Proverbs mentioned earlier that Gabby had been "accepted into" the American Cup, as if it was something you just had to apply for.  Just send in an application.  Some references.  You know, that whole thing.  We hear the Fake Trio comment on how she's merely an alternate, so there will be no pressure on the headcasey athlete.


She nails the amanar.  Again, we juxtapose between really weird looking fake shots, and actual film from SCAM.  I can't figure this out.  Obviously, we know that it's the real Dougie doing the stunts.  But some of them still look computer generated?  She does a front tuck on beam, and it's slow but not in slow motion but not in real motion either.  I am flummoxed.

She dismounts beam, and goes off to high five about seven other American athletes, who I guess were there.  Then we see her on floor.  The thing about Doug's floor is, yes, it was cheesy as hell and no, the choreography was not so good, but she sold it.  This Fake Dougie though?  She tries to look all serious and bothersome.  One cannot be serious and bothersome while doing the chicken dance to Papa Americano.

I feel like the actress playing Gabby really wanted to try her hand at some actual gymnastics.  So got this stunning L turn.


Hooray.  Gabby is back in the gym, training by herself with only Coach Standing Crane when he offers her the secret to gymnastics.

"You cannot thing of it as release the bar, catch the bar.  There is no release.  There is no catch.  Because it is all one.  *a Guqin plays in the background*  When you are in your moment, when you are doing exactly whatcha (his Valley accent makes one of its many appearances here) supposed to be doing, it's all one.  You are not reaching for the bar, because you have already got it.  Know that in the deepest part of your being.  There is no past, no future.  You are the bar, you are the air, you are the catch.  You are the eyes on you.  It's all one reality.  Every moment of your life has lead to this.  It's all a part of this.  You are not separate from the skill, you ARE the skill.  And it's all part of the same *muddled word* moment."  


Gabby, seemingly not understanding him even a little bit, is like "Yeah, it sounds like fate!"  Coach Jackie Chan is all "No, that's not right.  Not even a little bit.  I call it... gymnastics."  ZING.

Finally, we are at the main event, which is the Olympic Trials, and not the actual Olympics.  Who knew?  


During this very dramatic march in, we hear from the Fake Trio.  "Four skills.  Four chances to show they've got what it takes to represent the USA at the Olympic Games."  Four skills huh?


Spotlights.  Always with the damned spotlights.  After she does a Soviet one-armed salute, she does her hilarious run into an amanar while her coaches words play in her head.  We see NBC footage of Gab doing her piked tkatchev, which cuts into this- 


An homage to the hair?  We're not sure.  


Because of course.  This is the moment when GD flashes back to her childhood, her first steps inside Not Excalibusted, sprinting hilariously with her dog.  She goes into her double layout dismount, which I guess is the end of the meet because everyone is chanting USA and the Fake Trio announce her as the winner.  

Since we've obviously left no time for the actual Olympics, we are treated to a montage of NBC footage set to Alicia Keys' Girl on Fire which I'm totally cool with, and is pretty much the best part of the movie.  They show the real Perfect Siblings cheering, which is glorious on it's own.  And then the real Dougli all hug.  



Well, that was a thing, now wasn't it?  It's been real and all, but I think I'm going to go ahead and revisit some real London meets, so as to regain my sanity. 

20 comments:

  1. "Why don't you focus on my middle finger."

    BAHAHA!!!

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  2. Holy cow there are 75 images in this post? And you have an eight month old baby? Bless you spanny. You are a goddess.

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  3. Wait, so 2011 Worlds just ... didn't happen? What?

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  4. Fake Travis Parton looks like a serial killer.

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  5. Lol I miss these reviews. Love what you did with Travis- fake travis was really an abomination. Thank you Spanny for your had work.

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  6. I was at the TOPS training camp where gabby met chow. It happened just like in he lifetime movie. Lolz

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  7. I loved the "tucked Nastia" reference. Really missing your MIOBI reviews!!!

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  8. Gabby is a liar. Dominique Dawes is only her idol because she is black. Before the Olympics Gabby never mentioned Dominique.

    This movie was the worst gymnastics movie ever written.

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    1. Oh - these types of TV docudramas take "dramatic liberties" all of the time. I'm not so sure that it was Gabby lying as much as Lifetime adding a typical "dramatic flourish".

      Maybe Lifetime pounced on the fact that - just before the Olympics - Dawes interviewed Gabby for a Fox Sports program, and Gabby said during the interview, "People keep saying that I'm the new you!" (and Gabby further explains in her book that people kept comparing her to Dawes when Gabby was kicking ass at age-group meets).

      Just think - Gabby was 6 months old when Dawes competed in the 1996 Olympics. That is kind-of a chilling fact for gymn fans of a certain age.

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  9. I loved how Lifetime Chow was a male model with a Japanese accent and no lisp! Nowhere near as adorable as the real Chow.

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  10. "His expertise includes lecturing about concentration, and about how if you don't master a kip RIGHT NOW, you will never be a good gymnast."

    Clearly Not Gustavo was scarred for life by Olga Korbut's AA bars set in Munich :)

    "Nowhere near as adorable as the real Chow."

    Really, who is? :)

    "In any other Lifetime movie, this scene would be followed by a parent discovering a closet full of barf jars."

    I thought *exactly* the same thing--I daresay we all did!

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  11. Lifetime couldn't get Billy Zane to play Travis Parton?!?

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  12. A few of my favorite quotes from the post :) (Thank you Spanny, hilarious as usual).

    "Lots of Gymnova equipment around these parts. How Canadian of them."

    "So I'm thinking there are zero elite podium meets at that time. So suck a dick, Lifetime. Spanny- 1, Lifetime- 0. "

    "However, on her way, she falls down, and she takes the entire bowl of fruit with her. OH GOD NOT THE FRUIT!"

    "Gabby is finally in Iowa, at the Mecca that is Chow's Institute of Gymnastics and Dance. And Ancient Chinese Secrets. She just then realizes that she had been slumming it at Not Excalibusted, because this gym was the TITS."

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  13. Bravo, bravo, Spanny - reading through this the first time produced a lot of genuine belly-laughs. Belly-laughs feel awesome. :)

    I feel as though Imani Hakim and the actress who portrayed the younger Gabby played Gabby with a Kerri Strug-like intensity at times. The real-life Gabby doesn't seem to be nearly as conspicuously intense or compulsive. Yeah - what was with the pathological stare as the fictitious Gabby is watching 2008 Olympic Trials? I mean, do you want to go train with Shawn, or go spray Chow's gym with bullets?

    And I see that you didn't ignore what was kind-of the elephant in the room - Imani Hakim's bodytype. Oh - but I guess we were not supposed to notice that Imani looks like a 2 Live Crew model compared to Gabby.

    The real Travis Parton may not be bad-looking - but I somehow can't bring myself to think of him as "hot". Maybe it's the 700-Club, "I Shit Bibles" persona - it could also be Iowa in general. Noone - not even Lolo Jones - is "hot" until they get the heck out of Iowa.

    Gabby's Chow infatuation was just hilariously overblown. Missing from the film is the role Marta played in orchestrating the whole thing - and the flirtations/tryouts with Hill's gym and WOGA.

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  14. Can anybody explain me the JO/elite skipping thing? Why was she able to compete (even in nationals) as an elite in 2008 and 2009 and then compete as level 10 in 2010 Nastia Liukin cup and compete as elite again at classic and visas just a few months later? Can an elite just randomly decide to compete at a level 10 meet?

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  15. I think people forget or don't know that Gabby started at Gymstrada not Excalibur. She competed level 4 there so I assume someone there taught her that darn kip.

    Considering how many of my gymnasts watched this movie I thought they did a decent job. They didn't completely bash Excalibur or make any direct comments about racism. They also didn't mentioned that they helped pay for her gymnastics, not just her mom. But I guess it could have been a lot worse.

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  16. Sasha is on "Person of Interest!"

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  17. Hilarious. Thanks Spanny.

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  18. I have to tell you that Gabby did not do her own stunts. That part was played by a gymnast that trains in Georgia and is 15 years old. Her name is Kyla.

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