More Than a Game

MoreThanGameLionsgate scores big with this personal 20008 basketball documentary that puts Cleveland Cavalier star Lebron James front and center for all audiences. Set during his grade school years to new basketball height in high school (AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) league), More Than a Game entertains any audiences with Lebron James’ trials and victories on the way to basketball superstardom.

James’ own personal insight/narration sets up the later successes. His passion for love and love for the game genuinely comes through the lens to audiences. His impressive recollection skills and descriptions paint a vivid, intimate picture that wisely focuses on the local area/basketball court and closely related areas (locker room discussions, future prospects, financial benefits/impacts, etc.) instead of media coverage/fame.

The archival footage amazes as James gives insight into his background, family life and development as a basketball player. This film produces more than just a simple origin story. It creates a viable connection between the subjects and audience where people can relate to similar situations and the emotional results from watching seemingly regular people can accomplish great things.

James’ talents and impact effects everyone around him and filmmakers capture these events very well though music composer Harvey Mason Jr. and editor Scott Balcerek occasionally overplay the emotional touchstones of this story. Filmmakers use effective techniques like “animating” still photographs for an extra emotional impact.

Loyalty, trust, camaraderie, and teamwork create the building blocks for success on the court and in life for James and his high school coach/teammates. Coach Dru Joyce II, his son Dru Joyce III,  Sian Cotton, and Willie McGee complete the picture of the tight-knit Fighting Irish of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School’s basketball team in Akron, Ohio. Audiences also get insight as this team is challenged with another addition, Romeo Travis.

All these unique perspectives helps audiences understand James’ extraordinary talents and amazing feats (a 2002 Sports Illustrated cover appearance as a junior) that reach beyond basketball.

The impactful music was evident before and after this film itself as Mary J. Blige specifically used her single “Stronger” in the preview for support while the song “Forever” by Eminem, Drake, Kanye West and Lily Wayne was inspired by this documentary. Other songs include the super star filled “If You Dream” as well as high energy songs by 50 Cent,  Jadakiss, Ja Rule, Jurassic 5, Mr. Cheeks, Missy Elliot, Naughty by Nature and Rock.

Directed by Kristopher Belman (also an Akron, Ohio native), More Than a Game scores a solid recommendation (*** out of four stars) for all audiences and rated PG for some language. James also served as executive producer on this film.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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