He Got Game

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Time Out says

Father/son relationships have come to carry increasing weight in Spike Lee's films, and this one exhibits a sober moral force. A convict, Jake Shuttleworth (Washington), is unofficially paroled to Coney Island for a week. If he can persuade his son Jesus, the hottest basketball prospect in the country, to sign for the Governor's alma mater, Jake can get used to freedom. However, Jesus (NBA star Allen) has his own agenda, and the man who killed his mother comes at the end of a very long queue. The corrupt college scholarship system and the business of sport in general gets surprisingly ambivalent, vaguely satiric treatment - presented with these false profits and fast temptations, Lee puts his trust in Jesus. Flashbacks to Jake's tough-love training sessions are especially powerful, Washington exposing the aggression behind the determination, but cumbersome subplots involving Jovovich as a hooker and Dawson as Jesus' double-dealing girl don't help. Most scenes play too long, with a surplus of ideas, textures, tones and characters, and after 134 minutes it's clear Lee's problem with closure hasn't gone away.
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Release details

UK release:

1998

Duration:

136 mins

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