|legeros.com > Movie Hell > 1998 > Reviews|
Spike Lee's made a basketball movie! And it's a slam-dunk snooze- fest, baby! HE'S GOT GAME stars NBA star Ray Allen as Jesus Shut- tlesworth, a Coney Island high-school sensation being courted by every agent, scout, and collegiate coach on the East Coast. His classmates keep at him. His girlfriend's on someone's payroll. Even his former guardian uncle has become corrupted by the promise of a payoff. (That's Bill Nunn as the colorfully offensive Uncle Bubba.) The Holy One is offered cash, cars, platinum watches, and more [booty] that he would know what to do with. (Most of the time Jesus just says no.) Undecided on which school to attend and with less than a week before he must make up his mind, out of the blue arrives his father (Denzel Washington), a convicted murderer on a "special favor" work release. And, yup, *he's* got an agenda as well. (Are you ready for this one: the governor wants the boy to sign with *his* former school, so he talks to the warden, who talks to the con, and makes dad an offer he shouldn't refuse. And you thought ACC fans were fanatics!) As if detailing the pressures of inner-city sports success didn't carry enough dramatic weight, Spike splinters the story in several directions, ranging from dad's desire to re-bond (rebound?) with his son to a throwaway love story pairing the D man with Milla Jovovich (THE FIFTH ELEMENT), unrecognizable as a battered hooker. (Boring. Gimme more of Washington's character trying to adjust to his temporarily found freedom. He acts awfully casual in a world without bars.) Lots and lots of story and, yet, a surprisingly small amount of round ball. Maybe thirty minutes worth of hoopla, if that. The rest is chatter, often lacking electricity but well- filmed by cameraman Malik Hassan Sayeed. (The visuals score, but the music's an air ball. The score, set to Aaron Copland, is most- ly distracting.) Washington is clearly the cast's MVP; Allen is a blander, less-interesting presence. (Eh, the whole movie's kinda bland, so he fits.) In addition to numerous (and unsurprising) cameos-- of everyone from Shaq to some guy named Dean Smith-- the supporting cast also includes Jim Brown, Ned Beatty, and John Tuturro, the latter who elicited this response from one audience member: "doesn't Spike Lee know any other actors?" (Rated "R"/ ~135 min.) Grade: C Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros
Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: He Shoots! He Doesn't Score!