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The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Pete Maravich (Adam Guier) has just started high school in Clemson, South Carolina in 1959. Pete aspires to start on his school's varsity basketball team and to one day be a record-breaking pro player. His father Press (Nick Benedict) is the head coach at Clemson University, and continually instills in Pete the idea that confidence, persistence, and dedication will help him make his dreams come true. Pete incessantly practices the basketball drills taught to him by his father, and through hard work, "Pistol" Pete is finally given the opportunity to start and emerges as a star player on the team. In the process, he deals with hostile reactions to his showmanship from some of his teammates and coach. With "Pistol" setting scoring records, the team is poised to win the state championship, but in the segregated South, the tournament is limited to white teams only; when Press encourages his son's coach to play the best African-American high school team in the state, he is met with resistance, but Pete sees the opportunity as a chance to try and prove that his team really and truly is the best.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about "comeback kid" sports movies. What similarities do you see between this movie and other "comeback kid" sports movies?
What are the lessons the dad teaches to his son? What have your parents instilled in you?
How does this film reflect the realities of segregation in 1959 South Carolina?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.