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He Got Game
He Got Game
Actors: Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Ray Allen, Rosario Dawson, Hill Harper
Director: Spike Lee
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, African American Cinema
R     1998     2hr 16min

Academy Award(R)-winner Denzel Washington (Best Actor, 2001, TRAINING DAY) stars in this must-see story about a convict given one shot at a second chance to be a father! With promises of a reduced sentence, Jake Shuttleswo...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Ray Allen, Rosario Dawson, Hill Harper
Director: Spike Lee
Creators: Ellen Kuras, Malik Hassan Sayeed, Spike Lee, Barry Alexander Brown, Jon Kilik, Sonya Burres
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, African American Cinema
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, African American Cinema
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/10/1998
Original Release Date: 05/01/1998
Theatrical Release Date: 05/01/1998
Release Year: 1998
Run Time: 2hr 16min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Moving father / son story set to basketball
MilesAndTrane | Chicago, Il USA | 03/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Spike Lee's film contribution of 1998 marks his greatest graduation as a filmmaker since "Malcolm X". "He Got Game" documents the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top high school basketball player in the U.S. who is receiving incentives one way or the other, to attend someone's university. Jesus' father Jake - in prison for accidentally killing his mother - is offered an early parole in exchange for Jesus' enrollment at the governor's alma mater. Jake has one week to convince his son, who wants nothing to do with him. This film is really not about basketball, it is instead, a tale of a father seeking the forgiveness & respect of his son. Lee makes good documentation of the cutthroat world of professional sports recruiting. Washington, as always, delivers a touching performance. Whether asking his son for forgiveness, or giving his wife's tombstone an embrace, Washington portrays a flawed man in deep need to heal his family.Lee had no need to cast an NBA player, but cast Ray Allen anyway, who does a fine job. The music, a mix of Public Enemy and Aaron Copeland, is an odd combination that Lee puts to effective use. This film introduced Lee's slower pacing of storytelling, which he would continue to do with "Summer Of Sam", and it works quite well."
Not on the level of Spike's other works, but still good
The Fancy One | Westchester County, NY | 09/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I love Denzel Washington. I mean, I absolutely adore this man...he never gives a less than credible performance in any role he plays. Once again, he delivers as a less-than-perfect father in "He Got Game". This is more than a story about basketball - it's about human relationships, the bond between a father and son, and how that prevails even in the worst of circumstances.

The story, set in the Coney Island housing projects in Brooklyn, NY (where it was also filmed), surrounds Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel) who has been imprisoned in Attica for the accidental murder of his wife. His son, Jesus (Ray Allen), a high school basketball star who is being hotly pursued to either go into college or sign with the NBA, has nothing but contempt and disgust for his father. If Jake can convince his estranged son to attend a certain university and sign a letter of intent, then his time will be reduced significantly, since this school also happens to be the governor's alma mater.

It starts off with a lot of promise, when Jake is allowed out of prison for a week to try to talk to his son. But after a while, the plot starts to wear thin when Jake keeps approaching Jesus, and Jesus is always telling Jake to leave him alone. How long can this be stretched out before you get tired of the whole thing? Okay, you can throw in flashbacks of Jesus as a child and how his father pushed him hard to play ball; a scheming, opportunistic girlfriend (Rosario Dawson); money-hungry friends and relatives; and plenty of tempting offers to either take money, sign with the NBA, go to this college and so forth to thicken the plot. Everyone seems to want something from Jesus, and as a result he has very little trust for anyone around him, and understandably so. But even that tends to get monotonous because you keep hearing the same type of dialogue, only from different characters. But stay with it.

This movie does show realistic situations that face talented high-school prospects that can play basketball, so Spike was on point with this. However, it is not the first film that touched upon this subject. There was also "Blue Chips" that had Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee (Penny) Hardaway in it as students/basketball players being heavily recruited for colleges and how they were being paid off, depending on what their decision would be. (At the time this movie was out, both Shaq and Penny were members of the Orlando Magic.)

Ray Allen is an NBA basketball player in real life, but he is NO ACTOR, just like Shaq and Penny aren't actors, either. Whatever scenes Allen appeared in were kind of painful to watch because the man just has no skills in that area. He does try, though. And the rest of the cast aren't much better, most notably Milla Jovovich. She plays a grimy and pathetic prostitute who is repeatedly abused by her pimp. I found it difficult to believe that Denzel or any man would find her to be desirable. But then again, Denzel as Jake was just coming out of prison, so...

I also disliked the fact that Spike had to throw in so many sex scenes. I normally enjoy Spike's films, but why must he exploit women? He makes them look like they are nothing more than lowlife sexual playthings who are out to use men for what they have. "He Got Game" runs rampant with this, even casting porn star Heather Hunter in one of many (unnecessary) sex scenes! What the hell?! Although Spike does it on a smaller scale in his other movies, and always has, it didn't bother me as much as it did in this film. It was excessive. I understand the point that Spike was trying to make, but come on - couldn't he leave a little SOMETHING to the imagination?

"He Got Game" is definitely worth watching. Not perfect, but not a waste of time, either. See it!"
Exceptional Performance by Denzel Washington
Birdman | Minnetonka, MN USA | 12/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Spike Lee is such a talented filmmaker, one wonders why he took such
a fine script, marvelous cinemotography, thematic complexity and consistently fine performances -- then perforated everything with gratuitous sex.

Certainly, professional scouts lure college athletes with excess, but the manner in which Lee drops sex into the action here limits the audience for an otherwise outstanding film and interrupts the emotional resonance its characters evoke.

The film recounts a convicted father's effort to free himself from prison for accidently killing his wife. He does so by trying to persuade his son, a gifted basketball player,to attend the governor's university, "Big State," because governor is a fan.

The film has layers of plot and meaning woven together seamlessly. There is a father's effort to redeem himself in his son's eyes , to do penance in memory of his beloved wife. In all, Lee recounts the process of forgiveness with compassion and accuracy.

Beneath these layers, Lee explores the Faustian drama of professional athletics in a corrupt society. He exposes the manner in which business corporations and big education elevate athletic talent for their selfish ends, often asting aside decency and ethical sensibility.

The score, combining the music of Aaron Copland and Public Enemy, is oddly moving, without a trace of affectation.

Gratuitous sex aside -- this film confirms Spike Lee as one of our most moral filmmakers. While his output is inconsistent, his great films are just that. They are permanent and well-crafted, ethically sound and constructive.

In his role as Jake, Denzel Washington turns out one of his greatest performances. Whether embroiled in violence or tenderness, there is a depth and vision to this actor that is rare and wonderful.

Recommended for mature audiences."
This movie has game
retrowens | Alabama, USA | 09/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I must say that Spike Lee did a great job in making this movie. Jake (Denzel Washington) plays a prisoner who is in jail for murdering his wife years ago. He is given a chance to get out of prison if he does one thing. He has to convince his son, Jesus (Ray Allen) to attend a certain college. If he does that, Jake is a free man. Of course, it won't be easy because Jesus has to first forgive his dad for what he did to his mom before he can even think of going to a certain university in his dad's favor. Denzel Washington and Ray Allen both put on great performances to make this a great movie. The basketball sequences in the movie are exciting, but the drama in "He Got Game" is what makes the movie work so well. I recommend anybody to get "He Got Game.""