A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that if kids are old enough to love basketball and idolize LeBron James, you couldn't ask for a better documentary than More Than a Game. There's a strong emphasis on teamwork, family, and friendship -- the implication being that James wouldn't have been nearly as successful without his mother, teammates, and coaches. The movie is definitely tween-friendly from a content perspective; language includes a couple of "hell"s and a barely audible use of the "N" word, and there are some references to drugs, but always as a negative force. Though there are some hip-hop songs on the soundtrack, they're generally edited for content. In addition to James, the movie includes many other inspirational stories and characters to take home and remember -- and, as a bonus, you'll get plenty of gripping basketball footage worth cheering over.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As kids in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James, Dru Joyce III, Willie McGee, and Sian Cotton became the best of friends -- a friendship that translated to their playing skills on the basketball court. Inspirational documentary MORE THAN A GAME focuses mainly on their high school years at St. Vincent-St. Mary and the trials and tribulations they faced as their winning streak led to national fame. They were forced to break in a new coach in their junior year, as well as a temperamental fifth player, Romeo Travis. Plus, they had to deal with things like growth spurts, scheduling conflicts, and suspensions. Ultimately, issues of pride and arrogance are faced and dealt with through the power of family, passion, and dedication.
Is it any good?
The movie isn't particularly imaginative or artistic in its presentation. But while an ordinary documentary probably would have focused exclusively on the achievements of NBA superstar LeBron James, More Than a Game gives equal time to James' teammates and their own trials and tribulations. Director Kristopher Belman uses the usual collection of talking heads, video clips, and computer-enhanced photographs; however, the skilled editing eventually brings out the personalities of all five players, adding an emotional stake to the footage of key games, such as the diminutive Dru Joyce III's first freshman game, the junior year championship game, or the crucial period during which James was benched.
Bottom line? More Than a Game is a class act, keeping the story clean and upright but not shying away from the players' difficult origins and the realities therein.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about teamwork and the support that LeBron James received throughout his career from his family, teammates, and coaches. Would James have made it as far as he did without this support system?
James had celebrity thrust upon him at a young age, and it made many things in his life more difficult for him. What are some of the drawbacks to celebrity?
James came from a rough neighborhood and was raised by a single mom, but basketball offered him a chance at a better life. What other options or opportunities would someone in his situation have?
Should Coach Dru Joyce II have given special consideration to his son on the court? What could they have done to strengthen their father-and-son bond?
- In theaters: October 2, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: February 2, 2010
- Cast: Dru Joyce, Romeo Travis
- Director: Kristopher Belman
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: brief mild language and incidental smoking
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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