PG for racial issues including violence and epithets.
January 13, 2006
Drama / Sports
Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Austin Nichols, Mehcad Brooks, and Jon Voight
Walt Disney Pictures
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By Jennifer E. Jones
You may have heard the story of the Titans and the Hoosiers, but you probably don’t know about the Miners. This basketball team from Texas Western University went from obscurity to changing the face of sports history.
Walt Disney Pictures wants to take you to school with Glory Road. It’s the family-friendly film that will leave you cheering in the theater.
Glory Road follows the career of legendary NCAA basketball coach Don Haskins as it began in the mid-'60s. Played by Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama, A Beautiful Mind), Haskins was passionate and driven in his first university coaching job. From the very beginning, he made waves by recruiting players from the inner city and building a predominately black team in the newly integrated South.
Haskins’ hardcore coaching style shaped an inexperienced group of players into NCAA champions. By 1965, the Miners had an unbelievable season of 27 wins and only one loss. They played against University of Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and his Wildcats in a championship game that would go down in history. Haskins made the unprecedented decision to start five of his best black players in the season-winning game. It was not only a win for Texas Western; it was a win for racial equality.
Glory Road shines with dozens of bright points along the way. This film is a showcase for rising young talent as well as veterans of the cinema scene.
Take, for example, Josh Lucas. This should be the end of his days as a romantic lead or co-star in forgettable sci-fi flicks (Stealth). His portrayal of the dynamic Haskins was strong and right on point. Leading his players to victory, Lucas is the very definition of tough love and almost makes you forget that you’re watching a movie.
The same can be said for Derek Luke. This bright star already proved his acting skills in Antwone Fisher, and his role as guard Bobby Joe Hill is further confirmation that we will see more of him in the coming years.
Jon Voight is a living legend for a good reason. Although he’s not given nearly enough screen time, Voight presents the complex Coach Rupp with the utmost class. As Rupp, he is the very picture of a southern gentleman who can say more with a look than some actors can say with three pages of dialogue. Truly amazing.
The breakout star of Glory Road is MTV/BET jokester Al Shearer. He plays the underdog forward Nevil Shed who’s told by everyone, including his coach, that he’s too weak to play the game. Shearer has his comic side but reveals a deep desperation and drive to prove them all wrong. In a cast of strong performers, Shearer shows he can run with the big dogs.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure) and new Director James Gartner did a great job developing such a large cast. Each major role was distinctive and special. In spite of the many actors, they help you follow the individual stories that make this more than a sports feature.
The unwavering determination of this integrated team and its neophyte coach is the real star of Glory Road. The Miners endured threats, violence and blatant discrimination just to play basketball. They were underdogs to the world and yet they rose to the occasion to win. By doing so, they changed the game forever.
Parents get a double bonus with taking their kids to Glory Road. They not only get to enjoy a family-friendly film with plenty of laughs and slick sports moves but they get a chance to educate the younger generation on the civil rights movement. Children born in this era probably cannot fathom a day when blacks were not allowed to play basketball. Glory Road presents a true story that lends an important history lesson and hopefully will open up dialogue between parents and kids about racism.
The sports triumph film may not be novel to the silver screen; however, the story of the mighty Miners deserves to be told again and again. It’s full of heart, undeniable charm, and inspiration for all.
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