7 out of 10
Basketball Movie With Heart
Even though basketball movies have been coming out for years, there are few things that are constant between them. The focus of the story is an underdog and has impossible odds in order win. They have a coach who has a heart of gold to mold the team. There is always a big game which is do or die. These stereotypes often drag the quality down. Yet the odd film gets made that turns those ideas on their ear.
Glory Road is the story of a basketball team in 1966 that not only had an all black starting line-up but also won the NCAA national championship. They are led by a former women's basketball coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas). He gets recruited by Texas Western to turn around their losing basketball by whatever means necessary. Haskins then travels across the country and gathers some of the best African American players he can. This causes quite a stir for that decade not only because of discrimination but because the sport was dominated by white athletes. The movie then progresses through the trials and tribulations of the team as they fight against prejudice.
Like most other basketball films, this one suffers from being too similar to earlier ones. The team faces harsh injustices and overcomes huge obstacles. But unlike many other films it has heart. The performances of the entire basketball team and Josh Lucas in particular bring this movie to a different level. James Gartner's direction not only gives emotional depth but doesn't leave the sports elements far behind. Derek Luke, who plays one of the star players, turns in a good performance and shows he be both a dramatic actor and a physical one with equal ease in this film.
For a basketball movie, Glory Road is reminiscent of many others films of the same genre. With strong performances from its leads, this movie packs an emotional punch too.
Film Critic: Steven Scopa