The ongoing Dwight Howard saga often felt like a movie playing out. So, we decided to actually create trailers for "The Dwightmare" trilogy.
The Dwightmare (2012)
The story follows Dwight Howard as he attempts to escape the Orlando Magic for a far worse club -- the New Jersey Nets -- for no apparent reason. Howard, a fantastic basketball player, has taken the Magic to the Finals once already, but yearns to play with a legitimate star, like New Jersey's Deron Williams. In addition to that, the Nets are preparing to move to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season and have a billionaire Russian owner. The drama is slow and repetitive throughout until a stunning twist at the end that sets up the next two story arcs. The rapper Future (braidless thanks to the magic of CGI) is solid in his feature film debut as Howard, but Tom Selleck knocks the character Stan Van Gundy (Howard's coach) out of the park, and Hugo Weaving is as good as ever as Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Zach Braff, however, was not a great choice as Hedo Turkoglu. The Dwightmare is tough to sit through for two hours, but trust us that the final 30 minutes -- Skittles, jet planes, Judas turns and all -- is worth it.
Dwightmare 2: Now This Is Going To Be Fun (2012)
Dwight Howard's future has been resolved ... or has it? Director Judd Apatow crowdfunded the sequel through Kickstarter and opted for an unprecedented genre shift, turning the franchise to comedy. Edward James Olmos replaces Tom Selleck in the role of Stan Van Gundy, and puts together an Oscar-nominated performance passive-aggressively clashing with Howard, played again by the rapper Future. Howard waffles on his decision to stay with the Magic early on, then works behind the scenes with team owner Rich DeVos (played by Carl Reiner) to get Van Gundy fired. James Franco is very James Franco in his role as new Magic GM Rob Hennigan, who must navigate the tricky waters of helping Howard cement his future in the league. The comedy genre works wonders on the storyline, but the fart jokes become tiresome after 20 of them in the first 15 minutes. Paul Giamatti is superb as the story's only traditional villain, strident Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi.
Dwightmare 3: Knock Knock (2013)
The conclusion of the Dwightmare saga marks a return to drama to some extent, though the selection of director David Lynch turns everything on its head. Dwight Howard's season with the Lakers is met by all sorts of demons (real and imagined); part of the struggles Howard (played by the rapper Future, who lost his braids completely as Lynch's behest) faces are repeated hallucinations. The most frightening of these is when he imagines teammate Kobe Bryant (played expertly by Idris Elba) as an actual Black Mamba in the huddle. The film ends with a bit of creative license as Howard misunderstands the pitch from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey (played by Bill Pullman) and enlists in NASA space camp. Though ESPN reporter Chris Broussard (played by Terrence Howard) insists the L.A. Lakers remain a viable option, Howard continues on his path toward becoming an astronaut. We won't spoil the final sequence except to say that it is out of this world. [Scroll down for spoiler. -- Editor]
Two and a half stars.