Tells the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth, the most sought after high school basketball prospect in the nation. Jesus and his dream to make it to the big ranks in professional basketball are overshadowed by his father, Jake, who is spending his life in prison for killing Jesus' mother. Written by
Spike Lee originally wanted Kobe Bryant to play the part of Jesus Shuttlesworth. While Kobe liked the script and the idea of working with Spike, he had just finished his rookie year in the NBA (the 1996-97) and had shot several airballs in a brutal playoff loss by the Lakers to the Utah Jazz, and planned a workout program that would help him maintain his strength through the longer NBA seasons (a major adjustment, as Kobe went straight from high school to the pros). So he told Spike the summer of 1997 was too important to spend time making the film, and Spike promptly sought out Ray Allen, who quickly accepted the lead role. See more »
A fascinating performance by Denzel Washington in a solid film.
Denzel Washington has one of his greatest charcaters in Jake Shuttlesworth in this compelling film by Spike Lee. Jake is a man serving a life sentence for the accidental murder of his wife during a domestic dispute. The dispute centered around Jake's aggressive coaching of his young son Jesus who he is obsessed with turning into a basketball star. As the film opens we learn that Jesus (effectively played by Ray Allen) has indeed become a high school basketball star and is being now aggressively pursued by University teams and commercial agents. In a somewhat fanciful, yet unfortunately believable plot device the Governor promises Jake early release from prison if he can convince his son to go to Big State. Much of this film is amazingly well executed my only regret comes around some of the gender politics of the film (many of the female characters are underdeveloped and/or cartoonishly stereotyped). This is particularly unfortunate because the film has so much to say about the intersections of patriarchy/economic injustice/racism that I wish Spike Lee could have been a little more consistent with his development of the women characters (one notable exception is a brilliantly realized performance by Milla Javovich as a prostitute that rooms next to Jake). This said the film is still an important accomplishment and should be seen.
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