May 21, 1998 -- "He Got Game" is the latest Spike Lee joint not to hit Laramie. When's the last time a Spike Lee movie was shown here? It's got to be a few years ago. "Malcolm X" maybe? Anyway, I saw it in Denver, where they have no compunctions against showing one of the top grossing movies in the country, made by one of the nation's best directors.
This film is one Spike Lee's most entertaining films. From the music (including some good rap by Public Enemy) to its story structure, it is aimed at a wide cross section of moviegoers. Denzel Washington stars as Jake Shuttlesworth, a man imprisoned for murdering his wife. He is given a short release in order to try to persuade his son, Jesus, (played wonderfully by NBA player Ray Allen) to sign with Big State University. The governor, you see, is a big fan.
The story is about the feeding frenzy surrounding top high school basketball recruits. It turns out that all the people surrounding Jesus want a piece of the action. He can't really trust anyone, including his foster parents. It comes down to a one-on-one situation with his father.
Washington and Allen work really well together. Washington, of course, is one of the finest actors in Hollywood, but Allen, an acting novice, is a revelation in his role as Jesus. He is completely convincing as a character. Lee, who is a major sports fan, has a good eye for the game, and he knows how to put a story together. If you can find it, this is a film worth seeing. But with its inner-city profanities and graphic sex scenes, it isn't for kids. It rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.