Hoop Dreams
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -1/2

William Gates and Arthur Agee are two inner city youths in Chicago. At 14, they show promise as basketball players. Recruited by Earl Smith, an unofficial talent scout, both are offered partial scholarships to St. Joseph's, a private high school noted for its basketball program. The contrasts between Arthur and William off the basketball court are as interesting as their similarities on court. St. Joseph's head coach, Gene Pingatore, had trained Isaiah Thomas, an NBA star with the Chicago Bulls, among others. Arthur's goal is to be an NBA star like Thomas. While William, with better academic drive earns a full scholarship, Arthur must leave St. Joseph's and go to a public school. This true story follows William and Arthur through high school as their playing skills mature. Family members express their thoughts as events in the home alter the reality of the NBA dream. Edited down to three hours from 250 hours shot over a four year period, this coming of age chronicle of the boys' trials and successes would make a better PBS mini-series.

William seems more mature early on and focuses on the need for good academic skills. Arthur is more interested in basketball and does only enough academics to get by. Both boys have supportive families, but Arthur's struggles more with social problems. There are strong messages about family relationships and the difference God makes in a life. Arthur's father leaves the family and is later jailed on drug and theft charges. In prison, he kicks drugs and becomes a devout Christian. A church leader prays over the restored family. His father sees himself as a lesson to the children about turning your life to the Lord. Arthur's sister graduates as a nurse assistant while a soloist sings "His eye is on the sparrow" and the father prays over Arthur as he goes off to college. William fathers a child while still in high school, but elects to stay with the mother and child, eventually marrying. Surprisingly, it is the coach of the Catholic school who uses the one profanity in a practice, but leads a prayer before game time. He also uses a slang term for excrement. The film's many obscenities and one profanity are almost obscured by strong positive messages about personal drive and family support.

Preview Reviewer: Paul R. Bicking
Distributor: Fine Line Features, 888 7th Ave., 20th Flr, NY, NY 10106

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: Many (11) times (f-word 5, s-word 3, other 3)
Profanity: Regular once (J)
Violence: None, but graphic knee surgery not for squeamish
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None, but teacher stresses responsibility for sexual activity
Drug Abuse: Father's drug use leads to prison term
Other: Strong religious messages; families support boys; drug user converted to Christianity; teen accepts responsibility for illegitimate child
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Teens, Adults

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