He Got Game Movie Review
He Got Game, the latest Spike Lee joint features NBAer Ray Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth, the top high school basketball player in the country. As he is pondering his future after graduation, he is surrounded by friends and family trying to help him with his decision without really looking out for his own best interest. Among those trying to help is his father, Jake, played by Denzel Washington, who has been temporarily released from the state penitentiary under orders to get Jesus to sign with the governor's alma mater.
Unlike most movies that star pro athletes, He Got Game does not fail because of Allen's acting shortcomings. He, and the other pro basketball players featured in the film, are surprisingly solid. Instead, the film comes up short primarily because Lee does not allow the audience to get involved with the characters until the last half-hour of the film. Lee's obsession with technical gadgetry in this film represents a disturbing trend in his work. Where in earlier films like Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, his unconventional camera moves and effects only seemed to come in when we least expected them to heighten the emotion, in more recent films like Clockers and He Got Game, Lee's effects serve to keep us at arm's length.
Despite this apparent formalism through the majority of the film, He Got Game still contains a strong emotional power near the climax, when Lee finally lets up on the effects. Spike Lee is definitely a talented filmmaker, but if his next project is going to continue this trend toward formalism, I hope it's a music video.