Disney’s latest feel good sports movie is just that

Glory Road

I’m usually no good at writing movie reviews. I tend to write a bunch of critical stuff about a movie and then say that you should see it anyway as despite all its weaknesses, it’s a good film worth at least a matinee price and some popcorn. And now here I am writing a review about Glory Road, which is exactly that sort of movie.

Glory Road chronicles the true story of the Texas Western College basketball championship season of 1966. The coach, Don Haskins, was the first NCAA coach to put five black players on the court at the same time when most teams had only one or none on their rosters. The team, with seven black players, had to overcome entrenched racism as well as the challenges of coming from the big city to El Paso in the south.

Of course, there are more than a few instances of dramatic license taken in the retelling. Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have perfected the recipe for the feel good sports movie and this one doesn’t deviate much from the formula. This means we get little character development, plenty of humor, shaky camera movements and quick cut editing during the games, and some forced dialogue.

Particularly egregious was the treatment of Coach Don Haskin’s character. We’re treated to one set-up family scene and a few shared moments with his wife (played excellently by Emily Deschanel), but we never really get to see what made this good guy great. What were his motivations, etc. He spends about 10 seconds fighting with himself if he should cut and run and spare his family the pressure he’s put them under or continue as coach.

Some highlights of the movie were Harry’s Mom, wish she’d been in the film for just one more scene. How shocked the audience was when the N-Bomb was dropped right at the beginning of the film. It’s nice that we’ve come so far that its use is so shocking. I also liked watching Jon Voight play Adolph Rupp, the Kansas coach. The first act was humorous and engaged the audience, the second act was the part of the formula where the team experiences shaky moments, and the third act was predictable, but emotionally rewarding none the less. Hey, our audience clapped at the end.

So, like I said, even though this movie has its faults, don’t go expecting an Oscar caliber performance and you’ll be fine. By the same token, don’t go expecting a history lesson. It’s entertainment and liberties were taken with the true story. It’s ‘based on a true story’ not a documentary. Which reminds me if you like the story of Texas Western and want to learn more about that team, there is an excellent documentary you should try to find "Battle Lines: 1966 NCAA Championship." It was originally broadcast on ESPN in 2001.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 basketballs

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3 thoughts on “Disney’s latest feel good sports movie is just that

  1. John Frost

    The screening I attended was also heavily attended by black families, however I did not experience the same audience behavior as did Ms. Schlussel. While there may have been laughter at the use of the word ‘honkie’ it was more of a nervous release. This movie was not designed to peel the scab off of America’s continued race and class problems (New Orleans and Katrina has done that, thank you), it’s good entertainment that reminds us how far we’ve come and, however subtly, urges us not to slide back.

  2. chris Smith

    Disney and it’s Feel good sports movies. What are they really about? Certainly not about true inspirational stories. They are pc movies. I have had my true story written for years. No movie company has ever courted me. I was born with a crippling birth injury. I spent many years in therapy. I became a national class runner. No one will do my movie. You know why. It has no underlying cause. There is no major illness, like the Autistic Basketball kid. There are no race issues involved. There is nothing there that is political. What i want to see again are real inspirational movies like Rocky. Even though this is fiction it was a true inspirational movie. I just wish that someone someday would make my story into a movie. I am sure it would help so many people. I will keep trying to get my story out. I can only hope that someone somewhere will finally produce a real inspirational sports movie, without the politics.

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