By the end of "More Than A Game," it is quite possible that you or somebody around you will be in tears.
This documentary has been mistakenly pigeonholed as a basketball movie or even a movie about megastar LeBron James. "More Than A Game" is much more than that, as the title suggests. The movie is a tale is one of four (and eventually five) friends that come to prominence in Ohio that have one unifier. Basketball.
The move stars LeBron James and his long-term friends Dru Joyce, Romeo Travis, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee, who played together in middle school and then the prestigious St Mary's High School. This must-see movie chronicles the players rise to national fame, but also how they dealt with that success before they made any money.
The ride was not without bumps in the road.
The team had to overcome several obstacles on and off the court, which resulted in near-catastrophic results. They also were forced to contend with their own backgrounds, where they had to deal with self-esteem issues, poverty and fatherlessness.
On aspect of the movie that is overlooked in the trailer and at times in the movie is the significance of Coach Dru Joyce, Sr (father to Dru Joyce). Coach Joyce acts as a father figure to some and a life coach to others as he simultaneously helps the boys transition into manhood.
The movie also delves into the coach's past as well, as he never intended to be a basketball coach.
The team, through skill and will, manage to drudge their way to the state finals yearly and other national tournaments.
The hardships endured - both as individuals and as a unit - actually strengthen the family bonds that are created. Ultimately, they form the Fab Five, an unstoppable force.
From a cinematic standpoint, "More Than A Game" is appealing as well. Director Kristopher Belman takes old images and animates by separating the layers of the pictures. Grainy file footage is augmented and enhanced by current commentary. The storytelling is often very clean - like a feature film - but does not ever suggest fraudulence or deception. This is the real deal, a far more successful version of "Hoop Dreams."
"More Than A Game" is highly recommended, because it is likely you will see some of yourself or somebody you know in these men. If not, viewers will certainly cheer, scream and cry at the trials and tribulations that solidified a place in history for all involved.
Images from "More Than A Game"