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Overall Rating
2.73

Awesome: 6.82%
Worth A Look: 4.55%
Average59.09%
Pretty Bad: 13.64%
Total Crap: 15.91%

6 reviews, 8 user ratings


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Glory Road
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by Doug Bentin

"This one could have been a lot worse."
3 stars

Actor Josh Lucas has been kicking around in 35 movies over the last 15 years. He’s been flirting with becoming well known since “Sweet Home Alabama” in 2002, but his most high profile films have been box office disappoints.

That hasn’t been his fault. He’s always solid, and frequently he’s the best thing on the screen.

In “Glory Road” he plays real life college basketball coach Don Haskins. It’s 1965 and Haskins is coaching high school girls’ basketball in Ft. Worth when he’s recruited by Texas Western (now UTEP, University of Texas at El Paso). Haskins wants to build a competitive team, but the school just wants someone to coach a little when not overseeing the men’s dorm.

The white farm boys already in place are decent kids with some skill, but Haskins can’t compete with the big schools when it comes to recruiting so he takes his show to the streets of northern cities, offering scholarships to black kids who are fast and cool. The guys have to learn to tolerate racist stupidity while coming together as a team and learning that playing organized ball is not the same as playing on schoolyards.

A black team doesn’t sit well with administration, boosters, and fans. Oddly enough, we don’t see how the students react, other than the fact that they start attending games as the team wins. The film’s tag line is “Winning changes everything,” a statement that would be considered cynical if it weren’t so true.

The movie then follows the team as it improves and the white and black guys learn to appreciate each other not only as individuals but as representatives of their cultures.

Writers Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois do a nice job of showing us the kind of roadblocks the young men have to negotiate as they keep on winning, but they and director James Gartner don’t do as well when it comes to follow-through. We’re told, for instance, that threatening letters have been sent to Haskins’ wife (Emily Deschanel), and we know they frighten her, but we never learn anything else about them or their consequences. Were she and the kids every approached or attacked?

The movie wants to be two things at once: a standard underdogs make good sports story, and the representation of a significant moment in American cultural history as the team makes it to the NCAA finals and Haskins starts five black players for the first time. There’s no reason the two stories can’t blend, but to make it work the screenplay would have to emphasize the problems caused by the racial issues and lighten up on the love story and fish out of water clichés.

I liked the fact that during the championship game against Kentucky, despite the fans waving Stars and Bars behind the benches, both teams were just there for the basketball. Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp, an almost unrecognizable Jon Voight, doesn’t play the race card with his team. The fans may all have been thinking about not wanting black players to defeat white ones, but the players are all about the game. I like to think that that’s the way it was.

Lucas is more intense than I’ve seen him in the past. Let’s hope that this role provides him with the breakout he deserves.

A tip of the hat as well to old timer Red West as Haskins humanitarian assistant coach. Any actor who made it through 16 Elvis Presley movies deserves some recognition.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13733&reviewer=405
originally posted: 01/27/06 07:06:42
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User Comments

8/13/08 PAUL SHORTT STRUCTURED AS SMOOTHLY AS A WELL-EXECUTED GAME PLAN 4 stars
4/08/08 Jack Sommersby Predictable story is acceptable and Lucas's performance is very good. 3 stars
2/09/07 Moiz It was one of the best basketball movies out there!!! 5 stars
9/30/06 Tamara D. Leonard Excellent movie. We really enjoyed it. 4 stars
8/16/06 Phil M. Aficionado As history, very good. As a movie, so-so minus. Featurette with the real players saves it 3 stars
1/23/06 Soha Molina no good 1 stars
1/19/06 Jessica Hedrick greata story, people were worse to the team and coach is a lot meaner 5 stars
1/17/06 Kate INCREDIBLE 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Jan-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 06-Jun-2006

UK
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