Review - ‘Landis: Just Watch Me’ a film for those with something to prove
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
If a local athlete, or anyone for that matter, needs an extra dose of drive and motivation to work on their craft, I highly recommend looking into incoming South Central junior Landis Sims.
To those who know him, Sims is your typical high schooler, hanging out with friends, shooting hoops and taking swings while at the baseball field. Those who see him for the first time notice something different.
Sims was born in 2005 with no hands and most of his lower legs, the result of a condition known as congenital limb deficiency. While it made life a tad difficult at times, it didn’t stop him from achieving one of his dreams as a young man: making the varsity baseball team at South Central.
The journey to this goal is covered in a documentary called “Landis: Just Watch Me,” which was produced and directed by Eric Cochran of Taikuli Productions. Alongside footage and photos provided by Sims’ family, Cochran documents Sims’ life from birth up to his freshman year of high school.
The documentary highlights Landis’ struggles playing baseball as a quadruple amputee, from learning how to swing a bat to running the bases. It shows the struggles and pain of wearing prosthetics, especially during the game he loves, given that most are not designed with baseball in mind. Sims gives us insight into his struggles during the first days of baseball tryouts during his freshman year, from the attachment that allows him to swing a bat malfunctioning to struggling to hit outside pitches.
Throughout the documentary, we are shown the adversity and difficulties Sims has had to endure his entire life to this point. It also shows the determination and creativity in which Landis and his family use to overcome such challenges, including his mother, Amanda Wolfe, modifying one of Sims’ gloves by adding a shin guard to create a more comfortable fit.
During the last eight years covered in the documentary, Sims meets a number of supporters, including Wounded Warrior Matias Ferreira, as well as prosthetist David Rotter, who designed proper prosthetics for running and sliding along with an attachment for his bat. Sims also spent some time in Major League Baseball, palling around then-Yankees manager Joe Girardi, three-time MLB MVP Alex Rodriguez and San Diego Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove. Sims grew especially close with Musgrove, taking part in private lessons with the right-hander and St. Katherine University pitching coach Dom Johnson.
For almost 96 minutes, we bear witness to the drive and determination that Sims uses to fuel himself. For me personally, the film reminded me a lot of some of my own personal struggles as a young boy growing up with autism. The main difference between his struggles and mine are that he overcame his with grit, force of will and creativity, while I overcame mine primarily through sheer spite.
Having recently completed his sophomore year, it remains to be seen what is next for Sims during the last two years of his high school career. What we do know is that he’s not there to be a cute story. He’s not there to be an unofficial team mascot. He’s there to play and win.
“Landis: Just Watch Me” was released July 12 and is currently available to stream on AppleTV, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.