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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

He Got Game
Directed by Spike Lee
Touchstone 05/98 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - sex, nudity, violence, profanity, brief drug usage

You can be sitting on top of the world but if your heart is weighed down with hate, you're going to be one sorry, sad soul for a very long time. That's the situation in Spike Lee's razzle-dazzle sports film set in Coney Island. Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen, Milwaukee Bucks superstar) is the nation's number one high school basketball player. He must decide whether he wants to accept a college scholarship or to leap immediately into a multimillion dollar career as an NBA player.

Everyone wants to ride on the coattails of his impending success: his coach, his guardian uncle and aunt who have looked after him since his mother's death, and the local drug dealer who claims to have protected him from danger. Even his younger sister and his girlfriend have big dreams based upon his lucrative future. But the only important unfinished business in Jesus's life is with his estranged father Jake (Denzel Washington) who taught him everything he knows about basketball. When the prison warden gives Jake a week-long parole to convince his son to take a scholarship from the governor's alma mater, the scene is set for Jake and Jesus to square off against their demons.

Given the religious devotion millions of Americans exhibit for basketball and its superstars, Spike Lee's satirical use of biblical images is understandable. The heart and soul of the film, however, is its father and son reconciliation. The poetic finale of He Got Game beautifully conveys the spiritual connection that can link those who have been renewed by the liberating power of forgiveness.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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