|He Got Game/B+,B+|
| Maybe the next best thing to playing
basketball for Spike Lee is making a movie about the game. He Got Game is filled
with the writer/directors love of basketball. Some of the work is simply
magnificent, but Spike is too much the playground player; he cant contain his
showboat style. When theres a message playing cleanly in the subtext, the director
must make one more spin or turn before going to the basket, robbing some of the natural
beauty from the perfect moment. Still, this is probably Spike Lees best film after Malcolm
X and it is that love of basketball that dominates the film and brings a certain
purity to the main characters.
Lee peoples his movie with a variety of characters, most of whom are looking to profit from prodigy basketball star Jesus Shuttlesworth. College coaches looking to lure him to their schools, his high school coach trying to take advantage of his loyalty, his family looking to share in the potential financial windfall. Its a veritable circus with Jesus the main event. But the most interesting relationship is between Jesus and his father Jake, as played by Denzel Washington.
Spike Lee are a top-notch team in their third film together. I suppose Washington is the
actor every director would like to draft for his next project, but Lee does right by him.
This time Denzel does not dominate the screen the way he did in Malcolm X, but
supplies the fuel for the story to find heart. Denzel plays Jake Shuttlesworth, the
estranged father of high school superstar Jesus. Jake, serving time for the accidental
manslaughter of his wife, gets a chance to reduce his sentence if he can convince Jesus to
select the Governors favorite school as the platform for his basketball heroics.
Jake must find a way to break through to his son in the few short days before he must
declare his decision as to what school he will attend. Jake taught the tough lessons of
the basketball court to his son, unmercilously pushing him to excel, but the relationship
between father and son suffered the consequences. Now together they must explore that
relationship and find out what it all means in a one on one game of school yard
„1998 Stuart J. Kobak , all rights reserved.