Believe in Me Reviews
Inspired by a true story, "Believe in Me" is an entertaining and sweet, not saccharine, movie that does admittedly overstep on a couple of occasions. And the ending of the climactic game is highly unlikely to say the least, but weirder things have happened, right? However, the movie is smart enough to bring up the occasional bit of strategy.
Not only does the movie capture a time and place very well, it also subtly displays the first signs of the egalitarian nature of the 60's. All of the girls are given a chance to play based on ability, not status, and Clay is a part of the community, not above it. But this is only the beginning and change like the improved play of the team does not happen overnight. For example, 1964 may be the start of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, but it will not be until 1972 that Title IX is passed by Congress.
[b]Pride (2007) - 4.5/10[/b]
Director - Sunu Gonera
Starring - Terence Howard, Bernie Mac, Kimberly Elise, Tom Arnold, Brandon Fobbs, Evan Ross, Nate Parker, Regine Nehy, Gary Sturgis.
Jim Ellis (Terence Howard) is an African-American swim coach who takes a job at an inner city rec center in Philadelphia because, well there isn't much of a demand for black swim coaches in this pasty white sport. Set in the mid-1970's, Ellis "inherits" a ragtag group of kids who have nothing better to do after their basketball court is torn down. Eventually Ellis instills "pride" and the swimmers compete against the priviliged white suburban kids coached by the evil Tom Arnold.
The story is poorly wriiten, especially considering a good story does exist here. The all important black vs. white angle seems forced, as does the neighborhood thug character determined to "take back" his kids. Terence Howard, an actor I genuinely like, does his best to keep the film afloat, but even he can't overcome it's shortcomings.
[b]Peaceful Warrior (2006) - 4.5/10[/b]
Director - Victor Salva
Starring - Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart, Ashton Holmes, Tim DeKay, Agnes Bruckner.
Scott Mechlowicz stars as a college gymnast with Olympic aspirations. He's also a womanizer and a self-important jerk. One night he runs into a fascinating, yet strange man named Socrates (Nick Nolte) who happens to run a gas station. Socrates tries to instill morals and values, but the gymnast isn't fully receptive.....until a near-fatal motorcycle accident threatens to end his promising gymnastics career. Based on a popular book, the movie isn't quite as "simple" as most in the genre, but it finally digresses into the same cliched tried and true formula that sinks most films in this genre. Nolte is probably the main reason to watch this film, but I liked him more in the recent indie "Off the Black".
[b]Believe In Me (2006) - 4.5/10[/b]
Director - Robert Collector
Starring - Jeffrey Donovan, Samantha Mathis, Bruce Dern, Bob Gunton, Alicia Lagano.
Based on a true story, this film chronicles the unlikely rise of a rural girl's basketball team in the mid 1960's. Jeffrey Donovan stars as Clay Driscoll, a young coach who heads to Oklahoma with his wife (played by Samantha Mathis) thinking he's going to coach the boy's basketball team. Wrong. Stuck with a pathetic team of girls and an apathetic town, Driscoll tries to make the best of the situation, soon becoming embroiled in small-town politics with a local tyrant played by Bruce Dern. Of course the girls rally around the coach and eventually become a team, afterall they wouldn't make a movie if they just kept losing!
Nothing new here at all, well except it's a girl's team instead of a boys team. Otherwise it never strays from the tried and true inspirational sports story formula.
I think Jeffery Donovan does a very good job playing the role of coach Clay Driscoll.