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Looks very familiar, but something is new
Terrence Howard Stars in the Sports/Drama "Pride".
OPENING WEEKEND: $16,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $51,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

December 28th, 2006: It is 1973 and it’s still not easy for an African-American male, even a college-educated one like Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), to find employment. Struggling to find anything better, Jim, a former competitive swimmer, accepts the job of dismantling an abandoned pool hall at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation. This immediately causes some friction between him and a bitter, protective janitor named Elston (Bernie Mac) who works there. One day, Jim sees a group of troubled black teens who have just been thrown off the basketball court and invites them for a swim. Andre (Kevin Phillips), Hakim (Nate Parker), Reggie (Evan Ross), Puddin’ Head (Brandon Fobbs), and Walt (Alphonso McAuley) prove to be fairly capable swimmers and with a few pointers, could become great swimmers. With some help from Elston, Jim decides to try and save the pool hall by starting the city’s first all African-American swim team. When the team also acquires Willie (Regine Nehy), a girl swimmer more gifted than any of the guys, the prospects of competing against much more experienced rival teams begin to seem more positive. Throughout their struggles, in or out of the pool, Jim embraces and mentors the kids, hoping to help them become successful at swimming and in all aspects of their lives.

What to Expect: The best thing to happen to this movie in recent months is the title change. The current title, Pride, lacks originality and shows little subtlety as it hints at a second meaning, the racial pride that the characters are intended to represent. Still, it is short, sweet, and very much to the point and is infinitely better than the confounding previous title, PDR. Three-letter acronyms, like DMV for example, tend to scare people, and PDR would certainly not have done much to attract an audience.

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Overall, however, the most important factor in the picture is going to be Terrence Howard, who has essentially become an almost overnight sensation following his Oscar nomination for Hustle & Flow. He’s gone from a relative unknown to an instantly recognizable figure that can actually carry a picture like this. Bernie Mack’s dramatic turn in the film is nearly just as interesting. As the jaded Elston, turned bitter by the system, Mack should still have some openings for his punch lines and should provide great support to Howard. Kimberly Elise plays Hakim’s older sister and legal guardian in the movie. As the female lead, she will be Jim’s love interest. I’m not quite sure what to make of Tom Arnold as Bink, the racist coach of the main rival team. I actually find him quite entertaining, but this is the type of casting that only Hollywood could come up with. At the very least it is unconventional and certainly gives the story a little bit of bizarre pizzazz. As the captain of the predominantly white rival team, Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott Reeves, will be a second antagonist. Kevin Phillips reportedly gives a great performance as the rebellious Andre, who eventually goes on to become the PDR team captain. In one of the movie’s more clichéd subplots, his character will be involved with a drug dealer named Franklin, reportedly played superbly by Gary Sturgis.

The film is based on an inspiring true story that occurred in one of Philadelphia’s roughest neighborhoods just shortly after the volatile years of the civil rights movement. Reportedly, the PDR building is not holding up very well these days and it is a shame that the filmmakers did not utilize this to their advantage. As usual, Hollywood is avoiding true urban realism and is going for a much prettier look. The film was not even shot in Philly, but rather in Louisiana, on far more appealing grounds, like the LSU campus.

Early on in the film, there is a scene that shows Ellis being assaulted by police after losing a swim meet. Race will play a central role in all of the movie’s proceedings. During the first competition against coach Bink, the boys on the PDR team make total fools of themselves. They have to deal with both intolerance and violence and throughout the ordeal, Jim must guide them without allowing his own emotions to get the best of him. The film is about them regaining the sense of pride and victory as swimmers, African-Americans, and people in general.

Pride is bound to follow an underdog movie cliché checklist that has been pretty well established by now. For example, there is going to be at least one scene where a parent or legal guardian shows great concern over her kid being part of the PDR team, not because she is scared to see him loose, but because she is scared for him, as a minority, to get his hopes up too high. Of course, it will be made pretty clear that such fear of defeat is not justifiable and that it is far more important to fight for what you believe in, even if you might come out a loser. However, the movie appears to be less about the competition and more about the lives of the individuals involved. I’m not sure if it is better this way or if it will result in excessive melodrama. At the very least, Pride is the only movie about underdog swimmers that I can think of off the top of my head, so it is at least starting off on a good foot. Swimming is a very relaxing and freeing activity, which may perhaps serve as a bit of a metaphor in the movie. Reportedly, first time South African director Sunu Gonera, who has only worked on music videos and commercials in the past, does an excellent job of capturing the summer heat. It’s a bright and sparkling picture where you feel the sun’s rays and you sense the water’s waves.

In Conclusion: How many times is Philadelphia going to be the setting for one of these underdog sports stories? Only recently, the football flick Invincible took place in the “City of Brotherly Love,” but most people have already known all about the heroism of that magical city since the original Rocky came out some three decades ago. Well, Pride is going to try and fit right into the mold. Reportedly, early screenings for the drama have been good and the movie works as entertainment, poignant commentary, and a triumphant portrayal of the human spirit. I think it is pretty obvious as to what to expect from Pride and I’m sure most audiences will known as well.

Similar Titles: Antwone Fisher, Coach Carter, Akeelah and the Bee, Remember the Titans
March 23rd, 2007 (wide)
June 26th, 2007 (DVD)

Lions Gate Films

Sunu Gonera

Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Evan Ross, Scott Eastwood, Kimberly Elise, Tom Arnold, Kevin Phillips, Nate Parker, Brandon Fobbs, Alphonso McAuley, Regine Nehy, Gary Sturgis

Total: 51 vote(s).

Drama, Sports

Click here to view site

Rated PG for thematic material, language including some racial epithets, and violence

104 min





Pride at RottenTomatoes.com

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