He Got Game

Watch He Got Game

"The father, the son and the holy game."
  • R
  • 1998
  • 2 hr 14 min
  • 6.9  (50,699)
  • 64

He Got Game is a 1998 sports drama film directed by Spike Lee and starring Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, and NBA player, Ray Allen. The film revolves around the story of a father and son relationship complicated by the world of professional basketball. The movie opens with a montage of NBA footage, establishing the intense and sometimes pressure-filled world of the sport. The scene then shifts to two prison inmates, Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington) and his son Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), who are playing basketball in the prison yard. They exchange few words and continue playing basketball in silence.

Jake, serving time for killing his wife, is offered a deal by the governor: he will be granted early release if he can convince his son to attend the governor's alma mater, Big State University, rather than jump straight to the NBA. Jake is given a week to convince Jesus to choose Big State over other offers he has received from reputable basketball colleges.

The rest of the movie is a journey of Jake trying to connect with Jesus, who has not spoken to his father since the murder of his mother, while also dealing with the constant pressure of being the top basketball prospect in the country. Lee's masterful direction and Washington's superb performance elevate the movie beyond a typical sports drama.

The character of Jake is laid bare in the movie, and we see the rocky relationship between father and son. With the clock ticking down, Jake begins to discover that in order to reconnect with his son, he must first confront his own past and deal with the guilt he feels over the death of his wife.

Ray Allen's portrayal of Jesus is also commendable as he perfectly portrays the weight of expectations that come with being molded for sports superstardom. He grapples with the decision of how to balance his own life aspirations with those of his family and community.

Milla Jovovich plays Lala Bonilla, a prostitute who Jake befriends. Though she is a secondary character, her interactions with Jake add depth and emotion to the story. Her performance is spot on, and she provides a fresh, human perspective on the lives of those who live outside societal norms.

At its core, He Got Game is about the lengths parents will go to ensure their children's success, even though it might not be what the child wants. It also touches on societal issues like greed, corruption, and the role that sports play in shaping the culture and identity of communities.

One of the film’s biggest strengths is its rooting in a strong emotional connection between Jake and Jesus. The basketball serves as an important catalyst to bring them together but is never overused or exaggerated. The film’s pacing is well-done, with calm moments used effectively to balance out the high-stakes basketball games.

The film ends on a satisfying note, as both Jake and Jesus come to terms with their complicated past and the decisions that they must make for their future. The denouement scene, which is shot in slow-motion, is a poignant touch that leaves the audience with a message that hard work, dedication, and love can triumph over adversity.

In conclusion, He Got Game is an intensely moving, thought-provoking, and incredibly well-acted sports drama, which transcends the genre to delve into complex issues of family, race, and American cultural values. With top-notch performances from Washington and Allen and an efficient, heartfelt storyline, the Spike Lee masterpiece deserves all the accolades it has received over the years. It is a universal story that people from all backgrounds can relate to and is an essential watch for all sports fans and movie buffs alike.

He Got Game is a 1998 drama with a runtime of 2 hours and 14 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 64.

He Got Game
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Where to Watch He Got Game
He Got Game is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent He Got Game for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
    1998
  • MPAA Rating
    R
  • Runtime
    2 hr 14 min
  • Language
    English
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (50,699)
  • Metascore
    64