“Chang Can Dunk” is the latest Disney+ movie to hit the platform. The coming-of-age sports drama follows high school sophomore and basketball fanatic Chang (Bloom Li) as he impulsively bets against his rival and school jock Matt (Chase Liefeld) that he will be able to do a dunk by homecoming. It’s good to see Disney finally doing something other than remakes and reinterpretations. “Chang Can Dunk ” also demands to be taken more seriously than the usual light-hearted Disney teen movies we’ve come to expect. If you’ve watched the film and are searching for similar movies, look no further. Here are seven movies we believe are similar to “Chang Can Dunk.”
Ice Princess (2005)
Yet another Disney coming-of-age film, “Ice Princess,” follows Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg), an academically gifted high schooler aiming for a scholarship to get into Harvard when she finds her love for figure skating. The movie follows Casey’s difficult decision of choosing between her academic goals and her passion for skating, along with her deteriorating relationship with her mother, who is against Casey abandoning her Harvard dreams. “Ice Princess” executes a tried and tested formula perfectly and is also praised for its feel-good story filled with charming characters and some great performances from Michelle Trachtenberg, Joan Cusack, and Kim Cattrall.
The Basketball Diaries (1995)
Back when Leonardo DiCaprio was still a teenager, we saw him play as the high school basketball prodigy Jim Carroll. Adapted from musician and author Jim Carroll’s autobiographical book of the same name, the movie follows a teenage Carroll who falls into deep trouble due to his drug addiction, which ends up turning his life upside down. Leonardo DiCaprio transforms an otherwise messy film into one worth watching with his charismatic performance. He fires on all cylinders here, be it over-the-top screaming or nuanced grief, and DiCaprio truly shows his potential for future stardom here. He is backed up by some career-making performances from Mark Wahlberg and James Madio.
Varsity Blues (1999)
“Varsity Blues” was not acclaimed critically on its release, but it still did pretty well at the box office. The film has managed to find quite a cult following over the years. We follow Jonathan Moxon, or Mox (James Van Der Beek), a backup quarterback for the high school football team, West Canaan Coyotes, when a serious injury to the primary quarterback of the team lands him in the position of the new quarterback while also being appointed as the captain of the team. Things don’t go smoothly for Mox when he decides to defy his toxic and overbearing coach while also dealing with a complicated relationship with his father.
Stick It (2006)
Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym), previously a talented and upcoming gymnast, now spends her days messing around with her friends before an infraction with the law leads her to be forced to join competitive gymnastics again. Haley is a rebellious spirit, and her straightforward approach lands her in heaps of trouble when she points out the hypocrisy and unfair rules of the sport. “Stick It” is an exhibition of girl power and feminism, even though it was portrayed outlandishly over here. The characters of the teenage gymnasts are filled with energy, and their friendship is surely the best part of the film, along with some great acting by Missy Peregrym and Jeff Bridges.
The Karate Kid (1984)
We all know of the Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith Starrer 2010 film of the same name. But did you know that it was actually a soft remake of this 1984 film? The movie takes place in Reseda, Los Angeles, where newcomer Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Maccio) has a tough time adjusting to his new school life. He gets beaten up by the school bullies (who are proficient in martial arts). Luckily for him, his apartment handyman, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), was around to save him. The two strike up a deal that lets Miyagi train LaRusso in martial arts so he can go up against his bullies at the local karate championship. “The Karate Kid” was received very well by audiences and went on to be one of the top-grossing movies of the year. The movie is praised for its mature characters, great fight sequences, and the endearing friendship between Daniel and Miyagi.
Through The Fire (2005)
This documentary film follows former NBA star Sebastian Telfair during an important point in his life. The film chronicles Sebastian’s high school senior year, focusing on his career aspirations along with the difficult decisions he has to make. The movie also focuses on his family situation and the impact he made on his community. “Through the Fire” gives a close look at Telfair’s psyche and does an excellent job of conveying his point of view by cleverly keeping a distance from the young athlete for the audience to see naturally what he’s going through. The film also does a great job of capturing the excitement during his basketball matches, which are well-shot and edited.
Above The Rim (1994)
The movie follows Kyle Lee Watson (Duane Martin), a high school basketball sensation who faces a dilemma: in order to play in a local tournament he had to choose between his coach’s team or the local drug dealer’s (Tupac Shakur) team. Although a tad formulaic and filled with sports movie cliches of the time, “Above the Rim” is still a charming film with a well-intentioned story. The movie is elevated by some memorable performances from Tupac Shakur, Leon, and Duane Martin, along with some entertaining basketball sequences.