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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pride is a 2007 movie based on the true story of how an African American coach and teens formed a championship swim team and saved an inner-city rec center slated for destruction. This fact-based drama deals with racism head-on from its very first scene, in which Jim Ellis is the only African American at a swim meet in 1960s North Carolina. A scuffle breaks out, and he ends up striking a white cop. He encounters bigotry again in the '70s when he ends up coaching an all-black swim team: The team's wealthier white competitors sabotage and ridicule the black swimmers at meets. But the drama also shows Jim's team making jokes about their white rivals and goofing off instead of taking competition seriously. Besides the opening brawl, there's another altercation in a pool, when Jim nearly drowns the local drug dealer after he finds him vandalizing the rec center and urinating in the swimming pool. This drug dealer is also shown offering a prostitute to one of the swimmers and attempts to get one of the other swimmers to rejoin his gang. Ellis and the team use swimming as a way to find self-worth and learn lessons in determination, resilience, and persistence. Occasional profanity, including racist terms like the "N" word and "boy," as well as the dated term "Negro." "Retarded" is used as an insult to one of the swimmers who has a learning disability. Homophobic slurs like "sister boys" and "fruitcake" are also used. Other profanity includes "bulls--t," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "hell," and "suck." The movie shows cigarette smoking and some drinking.
What's the story?
Set in the 1970s, PRIDE follows competitive swimmer-turned-coach Jim Ellis after he's turned down for a coaching job at an all-white academy in the affluent Philadelphia suburbs. Jobless, he takes a temporary gig cleaning up a Philly rec center that's scheduled to close. When he uncovers and refills the pool -- much to the amusement of center maintenance worker Elston (Bernie Mac) -- a few local teens decide to dive in rather than hang out in the parking lot. Thus begins the fledgling swim team, which single-handedly keeps the center open. Of course, when the team members show up at their first official meet in their rickety yellow bus (at the same academy that snubbed Ellis), the race and class divide that separates them from their competitors becomes as crystal as the Olympic-sized pool's water. Ellis is embarrassed at the team's showing, and the kids realize they'll have to fully commit in order to really compete.
Is it any good?
Terrence Howard is an actor of such gravitas that he lends a powerful authenticity to every role he plays. Which is lucky for Pride. As Coach Ellis, Howard saves an otherwise formulaic story (based on real events, no less) from turning into another trite sports drama. Anyone who's seen an inspiring sports movie can guess what happens when the Philly kids train hard, swim fast, and land at a national competition. But even knowing the outcome, viewers can't help but cheer for the underdogs' Pride.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different forms of racism displayed in Pride. Why wouldn't any of the other swimmers get in the pool with Jim? How are his experiences tied in with the American South's segregated past?
While based on a true story, the movie also took some liberties. What are some moments that feel like they were exaggerated for the sake of creating more drama, tension, and excitement?
Can you think of other movies that deal with racism and sports? Is bigotry still an issue in athletics in real life? Give some examples.
- In theaters: March 22, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: June 26, 2007
- Cast: Bernie Mac, Kimberly Elise, Terrence Howard
- Director: Sunu Gonera
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic material, language including some racial epithets, and violence.
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