Spike Lee directs a flawed but fascinating portrait of the sports legend, actor, and activist in Jim Brown: All American. Interviewing former coaches, teammates, and celebrity observers (including Oliver Stone), and with B... more »rown's cooperation, this HBO documentary is best at detailing Brown's early life. Briefly raised by a great-grandmother in Georgia, Brown moved to Long Island, where he found a supportive, predominantly white, community that encouraged his high school victories in basketball, lacrosse, tennis, and, of course, football. He encounters racism at Syracuse University, but Brown's performance and pride overwhelmed all resistance. The Cleveland Browns chapter explains how Brown dominated the game, and then Lee ventures into his subject's experiences in Hollywood and as an African American community leader. The film is engaging and disciplined until controversial issues arise--Brown's alleged abuse toward women, for example--and Lee refuses to press. But in general, this is a good piece about a charismatic, dynamic figure. --Tom Keogh« less
Mike P. from S BURLINGTON, VT Reviewed on 11/21/2013...
This incredibly detailed documentary has actual footage of Jim in high school, college, and of course the NFL. This is a treasure!
Don't miss out!
Complex Subject; Complex Life
Minister 8-Ball | Albany, NY | 12/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary is probably more balanced thatn ESPN's and FOX's versions combined. Subjects like Jim Brown are difficult to be encapsuled in such a short time, but Spike probably did as good a job as any filmmaker could.
I also agree agout the balance concerning his legal issues. Allowing multiple parties to express their perspectives gives the viewer the responsibility to make up his/her own mind.
The most impressive thing was Jim expressing lament and remorse for not being the father he wanted to be for his children (prior to his present marriage to Monique and their two children). He took responsibility for their development and stated that by dealing with his personal survival and conflict with their respective mothers, the children suffer.
Overall, I highly recommend this documetary to anyone who says that athletes are one-dimensional and superficial."
Stick to Documentaries, Spike Lee!
Yasha Banana | 08/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Spike Lee's "Four Little Girls" and "When the Levees Broke" rank as two of the best documentaries in the history of the genre. His offering on Jim Brown, obviously a less-weighty subject, is nevertheless an admirable effort on his part.
I love Spike Lee's documentaries, but I don't care for his movies. What disappoints me about his movies is how *cynical* they are. Whereas his documentarties are just the opposite -- intelligent, inspiring, politically-committed. They represent, to my way of thinking, his best efforts as an artist.
One can hear in his voice-over comments not only his deep-felt desire to tell Jim Brown's story "like it is," the good as well as the bad, but also the clarion call of his social and political consciousness.
American filmakers take note -- films are not just an industry, they can and should be a force for social good. And Spike Lee has shown that he can lead the way.
Nothing achieves the level of "art" without an acknowledgement by the artist of the social, political and economic forces that fundamentally influence our lives.
So you're in the game, Spike Lee. Don't let us down!"
Jim Brown is still breaking tackles
J. L LaRegina | New Jersey | 11/15/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"JIM BROWN: ALL AMERICAN is just that, as the story of athlete/actor/philanthropist Jim Brown says as much about America as it does about the man. I don't think I need to give examples of what I mean when I say one's view of Jim Brown reveals no less than how he or she sees the United States.
While I recommend this documentary, I don't rate it higher because of the expectations I took to it. JIM BROWN: ALL AMERICAN is a Home Box Office presentation of a Spike Lee film about Jim Brown, after all! The quality of H.B.O. television is an oasis from the vast wasteland of the medium. Spike Lee is one of our premiere filmmakers. With such a creative force behind JIM BROWN: ALL AMERICAN, I envisioned nothing less than the movie version of Jim Brown's dead honest 1989 autobiography OUT OF BOUNDS, where with just words on paper the man flattened me, giving me an idea of how the football players whose tackles he so easily broke every season must have felt watching him hurtle by, let alone those who challenged him in other ways.
JIM BROWN: ALL AMERICAN has its moments, showing us this man who seems to have a wall between himself and you; at times even Jim Brown's children feel they must keep their distance. Yet with his ventures such as Amer-I-Can he reaches out, seeking to help others realize their potential. The wall keeping you from getting near Jim Brown seems to be just who he is, and those who try to penetrate it can end up like yet another gridiron defender tumbling in in grass and dirt, feeling foolish for trying to take him down.
On the whole, though, JIM BROWN: ALL AMERICAN does not keep up the intensity I anticipated. But again, maybe I was just expecting too much.
I'll say this. Without blowing how JIM BROWN: ALL AMERICAN ends, its final scene touched me. And when you see the film, you will know the emotional wallop with which it concludes comes not from what's obvious but because it takes you as close to Jim Brown as such a daunting man could allow.
See JIM BROWN: ALL AMERICAN."
SIMPLY THE BEST
Alan B. Fecteau | VALDOSTA, GA | 11/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As Jim Brown gets up there in years, there are an increasing number of tributes to him, both in print and on video. This has to be the best video version you'll find.
There's lots of athletes we watch. There's very few we listen to. Without exception, every time you listen to Jim Brown, you will learn something new. You may not agree 100 percent. But you will learn. Brown could have gotten lazy and traded on his celebrity for decades. But he quit football, and later the movies, ahead of schedule to spend time with at-risk youth in need of a steady hand and inspiration. There's no way to count how many men Brown ran over, just as there's no way to count how many young men he saved.