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He Got Game (1998)

R | | Drama, Sport | 1 May 1998 (USA)
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A basketball player's father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.

Director:

Spike Lee

Writer:

Spike Lee
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4,943 ( 104)
10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Denzel Washington ... Jake Shuttlesworth
Ray Allen ... Jesus Shuttlesworth
Milla Jovovich ... Dakota Burns
Rosario Dawson ... Lala Bonilla
Hill Harper ... Coleman 'Booger' Sykes
Zelda Harris ... Mary Shuttlesworth
Ned Beatty ... Warden Wyatt
Jim Brown ... Spivey
Joseph Lyle Taylor ... Crudup
Bill Nunn ... Uncle Bubba
Michele Shay Michele Shay ... Aunt Sally
Thomas Jefferson Byrd ... Sweetness
Roger Guenveur Smith ... Big Time Willie
John Turturro ... Coach Billy Sunday
Lonette McKee ... Martha Shuttlesworth
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A father's freedom depends on his son's choice. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexuality, some drug content and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 May 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

He Got Game See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,610,663, 3 May 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$21,554,585, 26 July 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In addition to the multiple coaches and players appearing as themselves, three of Jesus' teammates were played by NBA players at the time of the movie's release, Travis Best, Walter McCarty, and John Wallace. Another NBA player, Rick Fox, played Chick, who shows Jesus around Tech University. As of 2014, Fox has quite a bit of acting roles, but this movie is the only screen roles for Best and McCarty, while Wallace only has one other acting role, in another Spike Lee movie Bamboozled (2000). See more »

Goofs

At first while D'Andre is touching Lala's neck, he's not wearing any ring - next scene he's wearing a silver ring on his ring finger. See more »

Quotes

Big Time Willie: Do you know how to spell pussy?
Coleman 'Booger' Sykes: I know! P-U...
Big Time Willie: ...H-I-V.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 73rd Golden Globe Awards (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Hoe-Down
from "Rodeo"
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Aaron Copland, Conductor
Written by Aaron Copland
The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., Copyright Owner
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Solo Publisher
Courtesy of Sony Classical
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Well Played
10 December 2004 | by jhendrickson08See all my reviews

Spike Lee's He Got Game is a beautifully shot and well-executed exploration of the role that the sport of basketball plays in the relationship between a father and his estranged son. At the outset, having not seen very many other Spike Lee movies, I didn't really know what to expect or what to compare this film to. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the overall quality of the plot and the cinematography that composed this film. Furthermore, I really liked the definitive sense of Spike's style that was quite apparent throughout.

Told through flashbacks that reveal the plot throughout the course of the movie, He Got Game is about Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington) and his basketball-star son, Jesus (Ray Allen). Jake is in jail under mysterious circumstances, yet can get out of jail if he is able to convince Jesus to choose to play basketball at a specific school, namely the state governor's alma mater. Released for a week in order to complete the daunting task, he hounded by probation officers, and does a lot of things that he couldn't do in jail, such as have a light dalliance with Milla Jovovich's slightly-unnecessary prostitute character, Dakota Burns. Denzel, as usual, excellently handles his role as the intense father, and is utterly believable in both his emotion-laden and his violent, angry scenes.

Ray Allen's portrayal of Jesus is also an interesting and well-played usage of the strong dichotomy of masculinity in the sport of basketball. He very clearly shows the purer and more tender side of his character through his love for his younger sister, whom he lives with and takes care of. Yet he is torn between that and the glittering, vice-infested world that his ability at basketball brings him ever closer to. At times he does even succumb to the cloying ploys of others, and there is a particularly raunchy scene as evidence of this. Allen carefully and quietly allows the audience to see the conflicts between sensitivity and machoism that exist in his life, as a result of basketball.

Probably one of the more interesting ways in which this film is set up is through the use of comparative shots that allow the similarities of Jake and Jesus's actions to show. Jesus tries so hard to distance himself from his father, yet the shots and the camera framing show just how alike they both really are. I also particularly enjoyed the use of color and contrasts that appeared throughout. For instance when Jesus and his errant girlfriend LaLa (Rosario Dawson) are talking at the end of the film, both their faces vividly reflect a shade of jealous green from the amusement park lights.

Overall this film is a very good spin on the basketball sports movie, yet with no huge stadiums or big games to win the championship, like what usually constitutes a basketball movie. Instead, the two main characters go through much self-analysis and introspective maturing, something that is quite rare for sports-playing men in film to do. I liked the strong use of color and the well-framed shots, and especially enjoyed Denzel Washington's brooding performance. A classic, must-see movie for anyone interested in cinematography or film.


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