: The story of five young Black men from Akron, Ohio, who captured the nation's attention with their journey from the inner-city to winning a national high school basketball championship. Featuring LeBron James
, the celebrity of the group, the documentary traces the life of each player and their coach.
: A movie about five boys making it out of the hood via basketball could've easily went down cliché lane. Fortunately, the director, Kristopher Belman
, focused on individual stories and let basketball play a secondary role. Whether you are a basketball fan or not, the journeys of these men are more interesting than any three-pointers on the court.
Every member of the "Five Fab," as they were called, has a tale to tell and with confessional interviews, exclusive archival footage and raw emotion, the audience gets an intimate look at the lives of these young men. Issues of identity, poverty, abandonment, failure and athleticism all come to the surface in a way that is rarely shown in African-American men. More Than a Game
showcases a bond of boys to men that was not hyper-masculine or contrived through a diatribe of street credibility. From a battered gym to seven years later as the Fighting Irish basketball team at the predominately White St. Vincent–St. Mary High, the five young men became a support network -- something every young person needs if they are dealt more than a handful of adversity.
The doc is standard in its delivery, but isn't as basic as a random sports special. More importantly, in the way that Valentino: The Last Empire
was enjoyable without knowing fashion, More Than a Game
transcends the world of sports. While LeBron James is clearly the main attraction and it's interesting to see him open up when he is notoriously guarded, even if the Cleveland Cavaliers star wasn't a well-known sports figure, More Than a Game
would be equally as inspiring; the movie stands on its own.
The documentary ends on a high note, and if it wasn't a true story it would be sappy and unoriginal (I could do a list of all the bad sports movies that torture us with the same ending
). But, this is the truth. For a story that starts with poverty, abandonment and, in many cases, no way out -- it's inspiring to see these kids found their own route to success.
Ironically, basketball wasn't what made them successful. It was through this circle of consistency and dependability as young boys that made them a success -- with that type of support you can ride above your circumstances whether you aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, or sports player -- overall, deeply inspiring. That said, for every young kid who sees More Than a Game
and thinks they are the next LeBron James -- it should be mandatory to watch 1994's Hoop Dreams
More than a Game
is in theaters tomorrow.