"The incredible true story of LeBron James and the Akron Fab Five"
This documentary follows NBA superstar LeBron James and four of his talented teammates through the trials and tribulations of high school basketball in Ohio and James' journey to fame.
Remembering Michael Jordan is a feeling no player in basketball history could ever approach his skill and charisma. The smooth documentary More Than a Game offers the possibility that Le Bron James is everything Jordan was and maybe more. Yet it succeeds in deflecting James' glory by showing how his "Fab Five," as they called themselves at Akron's St. Vincent, St. Mary's in Ohio, overcame difficulties to become national champions.
Although the documentary follows the usual arc of win, lose, win for sports stories, similar to Hoop Dreams, I had satisfaction that I witnessed a phenomenon of history?a team that survived briefly without James(who later won a court decision to be reinstated), qualified for the nationals, lost the national championship only to come back the next year victorious. Clichéd as that might be, it's interesting history. The impact of media coverage, especially the growing awareness of James's transcendent talent, is never fully explored in favor of spreading the story amongst the five star players and coach.
Because James is a producer of this film, it's easy to see how it slides over the controversies such as his mother's financing a Hummer for him. There may be other more egregious acts, yet it's hard not to like the self-effacing star, even harder to discount the emotional challenges facing a coach who must coach his own son. Indeed the story of Coach Dru Joyce is every bit as interesting as that of the players, neophyte as he was to coaching basketball and with his son in the starting lineup. This is where director Kristopher Belman is at his best as he carefully reveals the difficulties such a situation brings.
The sly comment about James at the end of the obligatory "what happened to whom" may be the best indicator that as manipulative as this doc may be, it has a sense of humor about a serious sports story.