He Got Game (1998) Plot
Alright, picture this: He Got Game is an intense flick that centers around Jesus Shuttlesworth, the hottest high-school basketball star in the whole United States. All the top college basketball programs want him on their team. But here’s the kicker: his dad, Jake, is serving time in prison for a tragic accident. He accidentally took the life of Jesus’ mom, Martha, six years ago. Heartbreaking stuff, I know.
But hold on, things get even more intense. The governor, who’s an important figure at “Big State,” one of the colleges Jesus is considering, gives Jake a chance to leave prison temporarily to persuade his son to join that college. If Jake succeeds, he’ll get an early release from the slammer. Talk about high stakes!
When Jake gets out, he tries to reconnect with his daughter Mary, but Jesus is a bit hesitant and distant. You can feel the tension in the air. Throughout the film, Jake does everything he can to convince Jesus to choose Big State, but it seems like his efforts are in vain. We get to see flashbacks of Jesus’ tough basketball training under his dad and the night that terrible accident happened.
In the meantime, there’s a side story about Dakota, a woman who’s struggling and staying in the same hotel as Jake. They develop a close bond, and Jake helps her out despite his own troubles. It’s touching to see how they support each other through tough times.
As Jesus is being courted by big basketball programs, he’s tempted with money and women. The pressure is real, and he even contemplates going straight to the NBA to lift his family out of poverty. But nothing seems to sway him.
Finally, Jake challenges Jesus to a one-on-one game, and it’s a do-or-die moment. If Jake wins, Jesus goes to Big State; if Jesus wins, he’s free to make his own choice. It’s a heart-pounding match, and Jesus comes out on top. But even though he decides to sign with Big State, the governor doesn’t keep his promise to reduce Jake’s sentence. It’s a tough blow, but Jake finds a way to set himself free by passing on his dreams and burdens to his son. In a touching moment, he throws a basketball over the prison wall, and it lands on the Big State court where Jesus is practicing alone. It’s a message of hope and love from father to son.
He Got Game is an emotional rollercoaster filled with basketball, family struggles, and the power of forgiveness. It’s a story that’ll keep you glued to your seat, and if you’re a true American English movie lover, you won’t want to miss it!
He Got Game (1998) Cast
- Denzel Washington as Jake Shuttlesworth
- Ray Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth
- Jade Yorker as Jesus Shuttlesworth (age 12)
- Milla Jovovich as Dakota Barns
- John Turturro as Coach Billy Sunday
- Rosario Dawson as Lala Bonilla
- Jim Brown as Spivey
- Joseph Lyle Taylor as Crudup
- Hill Harper as Coleman “Booger” Sykes
- Shortee Reed as Coleman “Booger” Sykes (age 12)
- Zelda Harris as Mary Shuttlesworth
- Quinn Harris as Mary Shuttlesworth (age 6)
- Ned Beatty as Warden Marcel Wyatt
- Bill Nunn as Uncle Bubba
- Michele Shay as Aunt Sally
- Thomas Jefferson Byrd as “Sweetness”
- Roger Guenveur Smith as Willie “Big Time Willie”
- Lonette McKee as Martha Shuttlesworth
- Travis Best as Sip
- Walter McCarty as Mance
- Kim Director as Lynn
- John Wallace as Lonnie
- Rick Fox as Chick Deagan
- Leonard Roberts as D’Andre Mackey
- Jennifer Esposito as Ms. Janus
- Tiffany Jones as Buffy
- Jill Kelly as Suzie
- Al Palagonia as Dom Pagnotti
- Arthur J. Nascarella as Coach Cincotta
He Got Game (1998) Review
You know what? I gotta tell you, He Got Game is one Denzel Washington movie that’s just plain AWESOME. But it seems like it flies under the radar for some reason, and that’s just not fair. This movie deserves more love, no doubt about it.
First off, you’ve got the legendary Jim Brown, a true icon on and off the football field. And guess what? He’s starring alongside none other than the beautiful Raquel Welch! No KLAN rallies anywhere, can you believe it? Times have really changed, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.
Then there’s Spike Lee, a fantastic director, even though he can be a bit of a big mouth at times. But hey, he’s one of us, and he’s got talent! And let’s not forget Denzel Washington, one of the finest leading men of the past 25 years, and he’s BLACK! That’s a big deal, considering the progress we’ve made since the ’60s.
In this movie, Denzel is just KILLIN’ IT! Some might say his performance here even tops his role in “Malcolm X.” And that’s saying something because he was incredible in that too. Denzel ain’t taking nobody’s shorts, that’s for sure.
Now, there’s one thing I never understood. Denzel refused to do an IR scene with Julia Roberts in “The Pelican Brief,” but he does one in this movie with Milla Jovovich. I guess it’s a mystery why he made that choice.
But let’s get back to the movie itself. Spike Lee is in top form here, and when he’s focused, it’s a revelatory experience. The cast is fantastic, including Dunk star Ray Allen, who holds his own alongside Washington and the rest of the talented crew.
Even if you’re not a basketball or sports fan, this movie is more than that. It’s a powerful father-son story, and it’s a hidden gem from the ’90s. I hope Netflix picks it up one day and introduces it to the masses.
On a somber note, farewell to Thomas Jefferson Byrd, a talented actor from the Lee repertory, who tragically passed away. He will be missed.
And oh, you can’t miss Denzel’s famous neck-bop in the movie. It’s just AWESOME!
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