A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Though the movie spends a lot of time on NBA superstar LeBron James, it focuses more on the concept of teamwork than on a one-man show -- each of his teammates gets equal time on camera. The movie is also filled with messages about the importance of family, and the central four players/best friends are shown bonding and trusting one another -- the movie celebrates how their trust and friendship translate to the court. The destructive power of arrogance is also illustrated, and there's a general tone that while basketball was the key for most of these kids, it's also not the end-all, be-all of life.
Positive Role Models
James' success story is very inspirational, but some of the other people in the movie have stories even more so. Dru Joyce III overcomes his height disadvantage by practicing hard, turning crowds' laughter into respect. The story of Joyce's father following his coaching dream is also a strong example, as is the story of teammate Romeo Travis, who came from a tough childhood and couldn't get along with the other players until they opened their arms and accepted him. On the slight downside, viewers do also see James adapting to his newfound fame and occasionally succumbing to some of its pitfalls.
Violence & Scariness
Nothing more than the usual fouls and jostles on the basketball court.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The players occasionally mention the existence of adoring female fans and that you could play basketball to "get girls." It's implied that there could have been some hanky-panky, but nothing is shown or explicitly verbalized.
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Mostly clean, but there are at least two uses of the word "hell" during interviews, and the "N" word is barely audible in the background during a noisy team home video. A man in a restaurant calls the newly famous James a "jerk" as a way to illustrate how difficult James' celebrity was.
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Products & Purchases
The players speak jealously of an early rival team being sponsored by Nike -- but later on, when their own stars rise, they're happy about having been sponsored by Adidas. One player jokingly recommends that all athletes eat Wheaties. Gatorade is mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drugs are referred to as a reality of life for some of the players who came from the projects, but the movie doesn't indicate that any of the players ever tried drugs; it presents the players as being clean and healthy, and drugs are constantly labeled as something negative, a temptation and a bad influence to be overcome and beaten. In this light, there are images of teenagers smoking pot in a housing project.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.