He Got Game
Director: Spike Lee Run Time: 134 min. Format: 35mm Rating: R Release Year: 1998
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, Milla Jovovich, Rosario Dawson, Hill Harper
It was only a matter of time before Spike Lee made a film centered around his favorite sport. Basketball.
In HE GOT GAME, we travel to Coney Island for another Spike/Denzel joint. Here, Denzel plays one of his most complicated roles to date as Jake Shuttlesworth; a man imprisoned for killing his wife and the mother of his children. Jake is released on parole for a week by the Governor for one reason, and one reason only: to convince his prodigious Basketball player son, Jesus (portrayed with a layered sensitivity by NBA player Ray Allen) to attend the Governor’s alma mater for college. In exchange, Jake will get a reduced prison sentence. With a severely broken relationship between Jake and Jesus, and many others in Jesus’ ear, tempting him with big college contracts (including his girlfriend played by Rosario Dawson), the stakes are high, and Jake is running out of time…
HE GOT GAME features Spike Lee reunions with John Turturro, Zelda Harris, Bill Nunn, Lonette McKee and Roger Guenvuer Smith, a very slick performance from NBA star Rick Fox, and an original soundtrack of songs written and performed by Public Enemy that are interspersed with selections by legendary Brooklyn-born composer Aaron Copland.
All at once a powerful musing on Black Father and Son relationships and Spike’s love for the game of Basketball, HE GOT GAME was Lee’s first film to open at number one at the box office, and the first time he takes a step back, doesn’t appear in the film and let’s his filmmaking alone work its magic.