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Awesome: 6.82%
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6 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Glory Road
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by Peter Sobczynski

"a.k.a Remember the Miracle of the Rookie"
2 stars

“Glory Road” is Disney’s latest entry into the inspirational-true-life-sports-story genre that has sprung up in the last few years with the release of such films as “Remember the Titans,” “Miracle” and “Coach Carter.” If you’ve seen any of those films–hell, if you’ve seen the trailers for any of those films–then you have pretty seen everything that this one has to offer. There is nothing terribly wrong with it but there is nothing terribly right either–it goes about telling its familiar story in the most familiar manner possible with any potential rough spots smoothed over by an even-more familiar collection of 60's pop favorites.

Josh Lucas, the guy that you didn’t see staring in “Stealth,” plays Don Haskins, a high school girl’s basketball coach who was hired in 1966 to coach the team at the small Division 1 school Texas Western . Because few blue-chip players want to pick up and go to a virtually unknown school in El Paso and play for an untried coach, Haskins is unable to field much of a team at first. Then he hits upon the bright idea of tapping a largely overlooked supply of players by recruiting African-American kids at a time when few were playing the game on a college level. At first, this doesn’t go down with the school, the boosters and the other players but the team eventually comes together under the rule of Haskins and begins a stunning winning streak that eventually leads them to face the powerhouse Kentucky team for the NCAA championship. At the same time, however, the racial tensions of the time are constantly bubbling just under the surface and threaten to explode at any given time. Perhaps in response to this, Haskins made history during that Kentucky game when he became the first coach to field an all-black starting team in NCAA history.<

The story sounds almost too good to be true and, as it turns out, it has received more than its share of tweaks, compressions and inventions on its way to the silver screen. For starters, Haskins actually came to Texas Western in 1961 and had been recruiting and coaching there for several years before the 1966 championship season–in fact, his teams made it into the NCAA tournament in 1963 and 1964. Additionally, while Texas Western was the first to field an all-black starting lineup, it turns out that the University of Cincinnati and Loyola won the titles in 1962 and 1963 with four black players each on their starting teams. Now I am fully aware that most films based on real incidents fudge certain facts and dates–when you see the words “Based on a true story” at the beginning of a film, you can almost guarantee that the ensuing film will be just as fictional as anything else. However, since the entire point of the film is based on the conceit that Haskins was the first person in basketball to heavily populate his team with blacks and, as a result, brought a team from nowhere to the championship in one measly season despite overwhelming opposition and revolutionized the sport (even though people like Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were already NBA stars), the sheer volume of distorted facts on display here is more than a little disconcerting. (For further information, a good article on the film by Chicago sportswriter Ron Rapoport can be found at http://www.suntimes.com/output/rapoport/cst-spt-rap12.html)

However, a far more damaging problem with “Glory Road” than the factual inaccuracies is the fact that the film itself is so fundamentally uninteresting at its core. Boldly going where many past movies have gone before, the film gives us an endless parade of characters and scenes that we have seen a dozen times before–at times, it feels as if co-writer Gregory Allen Howard has merely resubmitted his “Remember the Titans” screenplay after carefully changing “football” to “basketball.” The players all seem to have exactly one characteristic–one is a ball-hog, another is a militant-in-training while a third is having trouble with his studies–that is dealt with in the most obvious fashion possible–to force the latter to bring his grades up, Haskins brings the kid’s sassy mama to come to class with him in a scene that seems inspired less from real life than from the need to have a quick laugh to fit into the trailer. As for the rest, whatever real-life drama there must have been has been replaced with familiar scenes of racial tensions (including one highly unlikely scene in which some boosters continue to complain about those darned black players even after they are heading to the tournament–most boosters I know would back a team of child-molesting cannibals if there was the promise of a championship), wacky scenes of bonding (look at that white guy eating chitlins!) and inspirational speeches, all spackled over with a soundtrack of the most familiar tunes imaginable–perhaps Jerry Bruckheimer got a volume deal on the Motown catalogue.

The only fresh element on display comes from the performance from the generally underrated Lucas as Haskins–he captures the fire of a coach like Haskins while keeping things ambiguous enough so that when he fields that historic team, it can be debated whether he did it to make a social statement or because he simply wanted to win with the best people he had. His performance transcends the familiar elements of the inspirational sports genre; unfortunately, the rest of “Glory Road” merely revels in them.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13733&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/12/06 23:55:29
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User Comments

4/07/08 Jack Sommersby Predictable story is acceptable and Lucas's performance is very good. 3 stars
2/08/07 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
1/22/06 Soha Molina no good 1 stars
1/18/06 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
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  13-Jan-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 06-Jun-2006



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