We’ve seen this story before — the underdog sports team with everything working against them shows real heart… and shows up everyone who didn’t think they had it in ’em, including themselves. But if it done well, these kinds of films can’t fail, because everyone loves an underdog. And this one is done extremely well, evincing unfakeable spunk and spirit and elevating a trite tale far above where it deserves to be. Terrence Howard (Idlewild) is the based-on-reality swim coach in 1970s Philadelphia who takes a job closing down a ghetto rec center and decides to revitalize it and the kids who hang around it by forming a swim team that eventually competes against chi-chi private academies, as well as the ingrained cultural despair of the poor community it calls home. The better-than-it-deserves-to-be script draws smart contrasts between Coach’s tendency to be his own worst enemy with the similar inclination of a long-oppressed underclass, even as it holds up a harsh mirror to privileged white attitude. Still, there’s not a single thing original or surprising here, except how sincerely touching Pride ends up being anyway.
(Technorati tags: Pride, Terence Howard)