He Got Game is Slam Dunk

He Got Game is Slam Dunk

Mitchell Moskowitz, Reporter

A good sports movie is hard to find. For every Rocky, there exists an infinite quantity of such catastrophes as Major League: Back to the Minors, Juwanna Mann, and Thunderstuck. Despite the plethora of terrible sports films in existence, several diamonds in the rough can be found. Spike Lee’s He Got Game, is one of those diamonds.
He Got Game chronicles the efforts Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington), a convict serving time for the accidental murder of his wife, to reconnect with his estranged son Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), a top high school basketball player. Jake’s primary reason for reaching out to his son is that his prison sentence will be reduced if he can convince his son to play college basketball for the governor’s alma mater, Big State. Despite Jesus’s hostility towards his father, Jake soon realizes how much pain he has caused his son and starts to care more about Jesus’s well-being than his own freedom. Eventually, Jesus decides to play for Big State and commits to building a relationship with his dad.
Many reasons exist as to why He Got Game is such a spectacular film. First, unlike many sports movies in existence, the plot is entertaining yet genuine. Throughout the film, the harsh reality of a rising high school athlete living in the projects of Brooklyn, New York is made abundantly clear. The audience witnesses the realistic trials of Jesus Shuttlesworth, such as his decision to either go to college after high school, or to play professionally and help lift his family out of poverty. The audience watches as Jesus is approached by recruiters and offered money and other perks in an attempt to sway By not attempting to water down the rough reality of life in the projects, Spike Lee allows the audience to become invested in the characters within the film.
Another factor that contributes to the film’s overall success is the phenomenal acting of the cast. Unlike co-star Denzel Washington, Ray Allen is not a professional actor. Despite this, Allen’s portrayal of a high school athlete living in poverty is both touching and genuine. Unlike many of his fellow NBA players who have decided to dip their feet in the waters of Hollywood, Allen’s performance is on par with that of an accredited actor. Along with Allen, the film’s star-studded cast includes such gems as Milla Jovovich, John Turturro, and Rosario Dawson. The phenomenal acting of the cast greatly contributed to the overall success of the film.
Also, unlike so many other basketball films, the action scenes in the film appeared genuine. The basketball scenes are extremely well made, with the audience not once pausing to question the authenticity of the scene. During the scenes when Jesus and his father play basketball in the park, the audience is kept on the edge of their seats. Hardly any aspect of the action appears scripted or fake, with the scenes closely resembling a real one-on-one game. Both the quality and legitimacy of the basketball scenes aided in the public’s positive reception of the film.
While many basketball movies leave the audience feeling disappointed, He Got Game perfectly combines sports with a genuine, entertaining storyline. Captivating, realistic, and moving, He Got Game is an all-around phenomenal film that is sure to exceed the expectations of even the pickiest moviegoer.