He Got Game

"Good"

He Got Game Review


If Spike Lee weren't so self-absorbed, he would probably be one of the best filmmakers around today. Instead, he gets caught up in camera tricks, mood lighting, and abrupt editing in an apparent attempt to keep any audience so confused trying to figure out what he is doing that they cannot become emotionally involved in his films.

He Got Game, the latest Spike Lee joint features NBAer Ray Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top high school basketball player in the country. As he is pondering his future after graduation, he is surrounded by friends and family trying to help him with his decision without really looking out for his own best interest. Among those trying to help is his father, Jake, played by Denzel Washington, who has been temporarily released from the state penitentiary under orders to get Jesus to sign with the governor's alma mater.

Unlike most movies that star pro athletes, He Got Game does not fail because of Allen's acting shortcomings. He, and the other pro basketball players featured in the film, are surprisingly solid. Instead, the film comes up short primarily because Lee does not allow the audience to get involved with the characters until the last half-hour of the film. Lee's obsession with technical gadgetry in this film represents a disturbing trend in his work. Where in earlier films like Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, his unconventional camera moves and effects only seemed to come in when we least expected them to heighten the emotion, in more recent films like Clockers and He Got Game, Lee's effects serve to keep us at arm's length.

Despite this apparent formalism through the majority of the film, He Got Game still contains a strong emotional power near the climax, when Lee finally lets up on the effects. Spike Lee is definitely a talented filmmaker, but if his next project is going to continue this trend toward formalism, I hope it's a music video.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 136 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st May 1998

Distributed by: Buena Vista

Production compaines: 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, Touchstone Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 49 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: ,

Starring: as Jake Shuttlesworth, as Jesus Shuttlesworth, as Dakota Burns, as Lala Bonilla, as Coleman 'Booger' Sykes, Jill Kelly as Suzie, as Buffy

Also starring: ,

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