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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Patience, persistence, and confidence are the keys to success, not only on the basketball court, but in life. Through words and example, this movie shows the hard work and reward inherent in dedicating one's self to being the best.
Positive Role Models
"Pistol" Pete Maravich is a focused and determined 12-year-old basketball player, undaunted by those who think he isn't good enough to start on his high school's varsity team. He unceasingly practices and believes without any doubt that his dreams will become reality. His father, Press Maravich, works hard to instill confidence in his son, and teaches his son and his players how the virtues he teaches on the basketball court -- dedication, hard work, persistence -- carry over into day-to-day life. Press also envisions the changes afoot in basketball and society, and actively encourages the desegregation of basketball.
Violence & Scariness
Taunting and bullying. An older high school basketball player shoves a younger player against a gym wall and orders him to quit the team. Later, this same older player knocks a basketball out of the hands of the younger player in a high school hallway. At a malt shop, this same older player shoves the younger player, knocking him to the floor. During a game, an opposing player deliberately runs into "Pistol" Pete and sends him to the floor, unconscious.
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The movie is set in South Carolina in 1959: some of the characters use racial slurs like "jungle bunnies" and "nigras," and use outdated terms like "colored." A young boy calls the older boy who bullies him, "butthead." While teaching his son a basketball drill, a father tells his son to stick his chest out, adding, "You don't want people to think you're light in your loafers."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A high school basketball coach smokes a cigar frequently. A coach holds a cigarette at a kitchen table.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend is based on a true sports story and is full of inspirational messages. Through words and example, the film shows the importance of patience, persistence, and dedication as the keys to victory, not only in basketball, but in life. There are a few instances of bullying between an older player and the lead character, but these scenes serve the higher message of not letting anything stand in the way of your dreams. Since the movie is set in 1959 South Carolina, one of the basketball coaches is never seen without a cigar, but more troubling for some will be the occasional racial slurs. While the "N" word is not used, other slurs (like "jungle bunny") are, as a way to show prevailing racial attitudes at the time. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This film adheres to the conventions of the underdog/coming-of-age sports movie while imparting through words and action the positive values needed to be a success not only in sports, but in life. Rather than focusing on Maravich's stellar career as a professional basketball player, this movie tells the story of Maravich's first year on his high school varsity team, and the challenges and difficulties he had to overcome as the youngest starter on a team.
The result is a testament to the values of confidence, dedication, and persistence put into action. Pete's father preaches these values; Pete practices them, with incredible results. For those who have seen many sports movies like these, there isn't anything new phere, but for those who remember Maravich's career as a pro, or for younger basketball players with dreams of their own, this is an enjoyable movie that shows the challenges everyone must face when trying to be the best.
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.