Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Glory Road" (2006) - Movie Review

Are we all getting tired of underdogs succeeding in the films? That is the question I asked myself while watching “Glory Road” which is another journey into the life of one Coach Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) recruiting black players during the times when racial emotions were on the high and open. So they crawl through their differences, fights, racism, personal emotions and everything a sports underdog success story films consider of. It has come in shapes, forms, curls, twists with the core of the film, inspiration as the running mantra for the film. Sure it is a feel good film with evening to pass in the couch munching snacks. No, I am not going to give it up so easily on it because it had characters which in a very developed fashion could have been a great film. It is a run of the mill film with lot to crave for.

When a team event like basket ball is the focus of a story, we need to know the players and no time for their relationships and side runners. But what I have the greatest concern is that not knowing their oppositions. Generally they turn out to be the perfect jerks because you got to root for the team in pursuit. Hence in the limited time, we are asked to dislike the other team, especially a coach reigned as the champion. His team has worked, struggled and matured as much as Haskins’ team Texas Western Miners. The sorry coach in this film would be Adolph Rupp (Jon Voight). When Haskin, the nice guy introduces himself, Rupp has that look of disdain but still the controlled courteous to leave a bitter feeling with Don. Yet in the minutes of his team getting hit hard by the underdogs, we learn a little bit about Rupp through the performance of Voight. He is human too and not some caricature for the film’s convenience.

Well I am getting way ahead of myself. Rupp’s team are the tough champs Miners face on in the final match. Before that is the recruitment process where of course being crippled of the luxuries and consideration, Haskin goes on to convince and get black players in to his team. They are Bobby Joe Hill (Derek Luke), Harry Flournoy (Mehcad Brooks), Willie Worsley (Sam Jones III), Nevil Shed (Al Shearer), Willie Cager (Damaine Radcliff) and David Lattin (Schin A.S Kerr). Along plays the typical Missouri farm kid Jerry Armstrong (Austin Nichols) who is the only real other player we get to know. Of course the film is about the men making it out there against the odds fighting hate in and out to get cheered and groomed by the man, their coach.

Don was a high school girls basket ball coach before he gets hired on by Texas Western College for which he gets a tiny bit of scoff from Bobby Joe to get the entire team a run till their last water molecule out of their body gets out. The pedigree are fed as a cruise control and you do not know how did you get here. You have trees on the road which seem to repeat itself as its twin siblings till the destination you reach. You hardly notice the thing you pass by you never cared for in the route to the place you have been thousand times. Such becomes the middle part of the film.

“Glory Road” has those silver stroke times. The times when a particular character says something with the scene and situation together providing a sudden wave of unsatisfied agony that how the director, in this case James Gartner could have done better having the ability to produce that scene. One such comes some where in the middle of the film when the team vacates a particular motel after they get racial epithets slain inside their rooms. The assistant coach Ross Moore by Red West comforts Coach Haskins on how he needs to be happy to bring in these kids into the team and then tells a line “Shame on us” which beckons more of him in the film and also the director to replicate true moments like this.

I would like to know the University of Kentucky team. What did they think of these players who clearly travelled the rough roads than them but still it is a game worked hard from both sides? The rage to win and plant their stand in ego would have been insurmountable, more in the case of the Miners to prove the point. What was running through Adolph Rupp and even if he really thought that his opposition had no chance, how did he come to accept the challenge he faced in the court apart from throwing hands in the air and saying “There is it” more than few times? The real events are undeniably to feel a bit happy of the achievements and growing up the people did in a totally unfavourable environment but why cannot we learn something about the long time winners being thrown hard down the floor startled, upset but possibly learning the greatest things of humility, respect and reality.

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