Parents' Guide to

He Got Game

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Spike Lee sports drama has strong language, violence, sex.

Movie R 1998 136 minutes
He Got Game Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 18+

Unexpected graphic sex (male-biased), prostitution, and overall misogyny throughout the film make it a horrible watching experience

I felt compelled to write my first review because this movie is not properly packaged or introduced to viewers. You might think you are getting a movie about basketball. While I was not expecting a feel-good kind of sports movie like Remember The Titans, especially knowing this was from Spike Lee, I did not expect to see so many graphic sex scenes with a kind of demonization of the female "over-sexed" body (female as temptress and libido-crazed around money and fame), not to mention such a superficial, unexamined depiction of prostitution, blasting in our faces throughout the film. These are not romantic love sex scenes. They have the effect of being horrifying and should be avoided by any young audiences who will not be able to understand/interpret them for what they are. We love watching Denzel Washington act. And we seek out movies about the challenges of race in America. But this movie simply propogates the worst, sexist depictions of women. Too bad!!
age 16+

BEST BASKETBALL MOVIE

Any real basketball fan can tell you this is the GOAT of b-ball movies. Despite just casting Ray Allen and Denzel Washington, it is a heart felt great movie about Jesus Shuttlesworth’s life as a #1 prospect in high school with his father in jail and everyone depending on him

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

There's much to appreciate in this film, but it's not one of the great director Spike Lee's best by a long shot. Allen, in his first role, and Washington are both fine, but more important, Lee's love of basketball is unmistakable, as is his admiration for those who dedicate themselves to mastering the game. And Lee's eyes are open to the exploitation of talented players, especially those from lower-income backgrounds who look to sports as a way out of poverty. Many insights are true and powerful, but scenes go on far too long, with some subplots completely unnecessary, and characters make agonizingly bad choices in ways that don't advance the plot at all.

As for rooting He Got Game in realism, Jesus never spends a moment going over the pros and cons of any particular college even though he still hasn't decided just days before that decision is due. These missteps make the movie difficult and even cringe-inducing to watch at times, but the opening is flawless -- a sequence set to Aaron Copland's music shows an array of young players sweating on courts in good neighborhoods and bad, honing their skills, a tribute to the purity of the game. That creative, economic simplicity is missing from the rest of the film. A few judicious cuts could have made this far more moving and effective.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: May 12, 1998
  • On DVD or streaming: November 10, 1998
  • Cast: Denzel Washington , Ray Allen , Lonette McKee , Milla Jovovich , Rosario Dawson
  • Director: Spike Lee
  • Inclusion Information: Black directors, Black actors, Female actors, Indigenous actors, Latino actors
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 136 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: for pervasive language, strong sexuality, some drug content and violence
  • Last updated: November 27, 2023

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