More Than a Game

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
More Than a Game Movie Poster Image
Inspirational basketball documentary is OK for young fans.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

Nothing more than the usual fouls and jostles on the basketball court.

Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism

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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMychemicalstinkpants April 16, 2011
Parent Written byAtirpak April 22, 2016

Great for Middle School viewers

It is appropriate and teaches kids a good lesson. My middle school classes enjoyed it, for the most part, especially the students who love sports and LeBron Jam...
Teen, 13 years old Written byWretchesandkings June 19, 2015

Great for almost every age

LeBRON James is a great role model!
Kid, 9 years old February 18, 2011
amazingly awsome

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?

Movie details

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