Starring: Dock Ellis
Directed by: Jeff Radice (debut)
Perhaps best known for throwing a no hitter in 1970 while tripping on LSD, former Pittsburgh Pirate Dock Ellis participated in his fair share of substance abuse during his 11 year MLB career. In “No No: A Documentary,” director Jeff Radice chronicles the growth, prominence and struggles of Ellis’ life.
With a story as fascinating as throwing a no hitter while under the influence of LSD, “No No” spends a surprisingly small amount of time on the game itself. Being a circumstance that has likely never happened before or since in sports, there is so much information left untapped. There’s also a lot of information about how “everyone” in baseball was taking performance enhancing drugs before they were outlawed. Once again, the film might have benefitted from a closer look at Dock’s ability to compete at the major league level while either high or drunk during every game he ever played, according to him. After his career ended, Ellis also became a drug counselor and spoke out against his actions as a drug addict. As has become a theme, the film spends such little time on that element as well, which is arguably the most interesting part of the film.
While “No No: A Dockumentary” has plenty of old footage, 70’s music, and interviews with those closest to Dock, and even Dock himself, the film suffers from a lack of narrative focus and perhaps too wide of a scope into the aspects and details of Ellis’ life. Still, it’s an interesting story and well put-together, even if it feels like something that would be better suited for an ESPN’s “30 For 30” series.
This film screened as a part of SXSW 2014.
For more coverage of SXSW 2014, click here.