When I read that it had clichés and was a sports film, I already had an idea of what it would be, it would have really 2 dimensional characters, the underdogs who go from losers to winners in a single montage and just a really simplistic story with no real conflict. This film had none of that.
All of the main characters are very complex and well written, the main character, Jim Ellis, is a very realistic person, he isn't just a cardboard cut out hero, no, he is complex and has layers to him. Terrence Howard, as usual, gives a fantastic performance where you can really feel where he is coming from and Bernie Mac gave a very good performance too and you really felt where he was coming from too. They do share some funny lines with each other after their initial conflict at the start and the script has some good jokes for them whenever it's needed. The swim team, who are mostly unknowns, are good and all give good performances without ever coming off as flat. Some of them do have their 'thing' that makes them easily recognisable before actually knowing who they are but this is based on a true story and even though I'm probably kidding myself because we all know how Hollywood likes to change things, so I'd like to believe that their 'thing' wasn't just made up for the film but who knows.
The only real problem I do have is with Tom Arnold's character, which certainly is an odd choice for this role but he really did not have much to him, he wasn't flat out a cartoon character as to be fair he does have some slight growth throughout the film, as does his team, but he's just there! And you don't really know all that much about him, but he isn't the focus of the film nor is in it all that much anyway so it doesn't really matter. Even with that, he wasn't an over the top stereotype that reviewers make him out to be, I can't even begin to imagine how it was to be an African-American living in 1974. There were some points where some of the acting was a bit off but that was by people who were in the film maybe about 2 minutes but that's just a nitpick someone like me would look out for.
The development of how they went from a bunch of friends to a swim team was really well done, it didn't just happen over night or in a montage like I mentioned earlier, they have lessons, they have conflict, they have sad moments and everything else in between. It'll look like everything is coming together and then it goes in another direction and then they have to deal with that, it was done well. The only thing I really noticed that was a cliché was that the team gets told off one night and the next day after someone wakes up, they hear the team swimming as they get serious and start learning properly, I've seen that done before lots of times but that lasts barely a minute. The swim scenes are very intense and exciting to watch, especially the last one, as it should be. The soundtrack is good and didn't overburden any scene to force an emotion on the audience, it accompanied what happened on screen well.
While it might have conflict and have complex characters in a good story, it is quite predictable just in terms of the ending, you know what will happen and especially because it's based on a true story, but here it works because it has strong, powerful moments and it's a good experience that doesn't take anything away from anybody, and the film itself is unique, a film about an African-American swim team? Can't say I've seen many of those. I have seen some terribly clichéd films and, at least to me, this wasn't one of them. It shows you what your emotions want to see, which would usually be a bad thing but it feels like you've been on a real journey after all is said and done and it's a good story that should be told, it's nice, well made and made me smile and that's all I can ask. During the credits it shows the real Jim Ellis and it's really good to see real footage of what he has been doing.
THIS IS OUR HOUSE, COACH!
Same ol, same ol.
technique in the movie was on too! so proud :)