You might figure that any baseball player who pitched a no-hitter in a major league game while reportedly on LSD is probably worth a movie, and based on the engaging “No No: A Dockumentary,” that assessment pretty much stands.
Twenty years after Jackie Robinson’s barrier-busting milestone for racial equality in baseball, Los Angeles native Dock Ellis brought outspokenness, black advocacy and a take-it-or-leave-it personality to the sport, whether raising eyebrows by wearing curlers to Pittsburgh Pirates practice, using the media to pressure the league into starting its two best pitchers — both black, one of them himself — in the 1971 All-Star game (the Pirates won the World Series that year) or befriending a poet laureate who would write his biography.
A casualty of the era’s rampant drug use among players, Ellis bottomed out after a decade. After cleaning up, he became an addiction counselor, a position he held for the rest of his life.
Director Jeffrey Radice talks with plenty of Ellis’ teammates, family members and charmed-then-beleaguered wives, and he makes good use of archival interviews and footage in constructing his engaging portrait of a complicated but vivid sports figure. The story gets a nice pulse from Adam Horovitz’s ‘70s-funk-inspired score.
“No No: A Dockumentary.”
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle’s Noho 7, North Hollywood.