Hoop Dreams Movie Poster Image

Hoop Dreams

(i)

 

Stunning documentary addresses race and class issues.
  • Review Date: July 21, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 171 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Poverty can crush the spirit, but family can help support people through difficult times. Hard work and listening to experts and coaches don't always get you what you want. Life is not fair. Talent does not always rise to the top. Sometimes bad luck ruins everything. Drug use is destructive.

Positive role models

William and Arthur both dream of NBA careers, but life takes them elsewhere. Both reevaluate the role of basketball in their lives as they begin to understand how few talented players make it to the NBA. Spoiler alert: Disappointed, they each replace the goal of reaching the NBA with the goal of achieving a college education. Their parents do their best under the most difficult circumstances to be loving and supportive. A suburban private high school reneges on its scholarship when a player doesn't meet expectations, then holds his records hostage for the $1,800 in back tuition the unemployed parents can't afford.

Violence

A character describes being mugged, and the danger of living in the ghetto is a theme throughout. Knee surgery is shown. The usual scuffles on a basketball court during a game are shown.

Sex

William fathers a child before he graduates from high school. Teen sexuality is discussed in terms of its consequences.

Language

Locker-room profanity. Some strong language from basketball coaches, such as "bulls--t," and a scene where one of the characters is listening to music with particularly strong lyrics.

Consumerism

The process of scouting and recruiting talented young basketball players, from as early as age 12, is depicted in terms of economic advantage -- most especially to the high schools and colleges that recruit and give scholarships and secondarily to the striving players who dream of wealth, fame, glory, and a route out of the ghetto. Brand-name sports shoes and athletic gear are seen as overpriced and desired by those who can't afford it.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drug use by family members and friends is discussed, always in terms of its consequences. Drug-dealing neighborhoods are shown. Bo is a crack cocaine addict who eventually gets clean.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this three-hour-long documentary film features a lot of intense discussion by two young men about their experiences with parental separation and divorce, familial drug use, extreme poverty, sport-related injury, urban blight and violence, and teen pregnancy, all while they're trying to earn college basketball scholarships. There's some locker-room profanity and some strong language from basketball coaches, such as "bulls--t," and a scene where one of the characters is listening to music with particularly strong lyrics.

What's the story?

HOOP DREAMS follows the trials and tribulations of two young African-American basketball standouts from Chicago. Following the boys from eighth grade through their senior year in high school, director Steve James offers an intense look at the often depressing situation facing many young people who live in inner cities: parents, siblings, and friends all struggling with vastly limited opportunities, potentially fatal temptations, and overwhelmingly poor odds. That William Gates and Arthur Agee are gifted athletes provides them with the potential to avoid the predicaments of those they love by winning basketball scholarships to college -- and maybe, just maybe, a ticket to the NBA.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This film's greatest strength is that it is pragmatic before it is hopeful. James is careful to highlight the many obstacles standing in Gates and Agee's way: from corner drug dealers to test scores, from tuition payments at ritzy private schools to parental desertion. Rather than providing viewers with a candy-coated confection of "local boy makes good," Hoop Dreams illustrates how nearly impossible it is for such a story to even take place -- and that frequently it's a result of things completely out of the boys' control. The result is a searing portrait of inner-city life in America, and the extraordinary, downright unfair expectations placed on the shoulders of many young African-American athletes.

Hoop Dreams painstakingly tempers the romanticism characteristic high school athletes by paying special attention to the many roadblocks that stand in the way of Gates and Agee's dreams. This movie provides an excellent way for families to talk about issues such as race and class in urban America, long-term goals, teen sex and drug use, and getting good grades.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the experiences of William Gates and Arthur Agee both on and off the high school basketball court. How are William and Arthur's high school experiences different? How are they the same? How do their family environments both help and hurt each of them?

  • What do you think about the boys' long-term goals? What are your long-term goals?

  • Do you think the media glamorizes professional sports and sports stars? If so, is that a positive or negative thing?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1994
DVD release date:May 10, 2005
Cast:Arthur Agee, Emma Gates, William Gates
Director:Steve James
Studio:Criterion Collection
Genre:Documentary
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Character strengths:Perseverance, Teamwork
Run time:171 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language, some drug content, and some sexual references.

This review of Hoop Dreams was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old April 25, 2009

have to see

it was sad but good. a great film!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 September 22, 2012

hoop dreams

Families can talk about the experiences of William Gates and Arthur Agee both on and off the high school basketball court. How are William and Arthur's high school experiences different? How are they the same? How do their family environments both help and hurt each of them? Why do other young people -– particularly young black men –- find themselves in similar situations? What do you think about the boys' long-term goals? What would you have done differently? How are their predicaments similar and different to other children in inner cities across the United States?
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byTotally500 August 27, 2010

A Basketball Film that is remarkable for teens to see

this was a great film that i ever saw. It showed lots of messages and it was sad in most parts. It is a great film that every teen should see
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models

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