Spike Lee probably doesn't care for an Oscar. But with He Got Game, he's made a film that should at least be considered for the big prize.Ray Allen, Milwaukee Buck, plays the lead character Jesus Shuttlesworth. He led his high school basketball team to championship victory, and that's got all the big-shot college recruiters gathering around his Coney Island neighborhood. The Governor of New York has taken notice of this hoop prodigy as well, and has enlisted Jesus' father, Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington), to persuade his son to sign with the governor's alma mater, Big State University. Jake, in prison for accidentally killing his wife, gets an unofficial furlough to take care of business.
It's not going to be an easy task. Jesus has all but disowned his father for what he did to mom, and he and his family are up to their necks in agents and sweet deals. Jesus' uncle test-drives a luxury car, Jesus' girlfriend humps an agent to give him the upper hand, and the pressure to decide comes from all sides. Against all this, Jake knows he has a chance to crack the hard wall that Jesus built against him, since he was the one that first showed his little boy how to play B-ball.
The music is an interesting blend of classical Aaron Copland and ballsy Public Enemy rap. The story is compelling, finely knitting the pressure of being the #1 college recruiting prize with the tense drama of a dysfunctional family trying to heal itself, and culminating in a one-on-one father vs. son matchup. A side plot involving Jake and a prostitute (Milla Jovovich) doesn't really add to the story and seems to take up space. Still, He Got Game is one hoop-dreams film that hits home with a vengeance.Spike deserves an Oscar for this... whether he'll accept it is another issue.