Saturday, 7 July 2007
Pride (2007) dir. Sunu Gonera
Starring Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Tom Arnold
“Pride” is a sports formula/cliché film that would be relegated to obscurity if it were not for the remarkable singular talents of Terrence Howard.
“Pride” tells the story of Jim Ellis, a former promising swim athlete in his youth who changes the lives of a group of Philadelphia inner city kids by coaching a local swim team. Jim is introduced as a noble but hot headed kid in 1966 who rebels and fights back when he’s not allowed to compete in a swim meet because he’s black. Cut to 10 years later when he takes a lame job cleaning up an old rec centre in a rundown part of town. He proceeds to clean up the decrepit swimming pool and create a place for the local kids to swim. When he discovers the kids actually take an interest in the sport he creates an official swim team – called PDR, which stands for Pride, Determination, and Resilience.
After this set up the film is basically on autopilot. The kids experience the highs of competing against rich white kids, and then lows when they are discriminated against because of the colour of their skin. Each of the kids as well as Jim and his partner Elston (Bernie Mac) overcome personal demons to triumph over the odds. Good feelings all around.
It’s the ‘Karate Kid’/’Rocky’ mould, but without the storytelling skill or originality to make it stand out above the rest of the over-saturated sports formula film market. Ie. The three indistinguishable football films released in the past year years: “Invincible”, “We Are Marshall”, and “The Gridiron Gang”.
What saves the film is Terrence Howard. This is the first film he’s shot since his Oscar nomination in 2006. How come people haven’t been hiring this guy? Though, according to the IMDB he has five films in the can and three more in various stages of production – including “Iron Man.” Basically every time he’s on the screen he’s captivating. His recites his dialogue with such integrity – even the heavily clichéd lines resonate with authenticity. Unfortunately he’s given some really cornball scenes to play out in the third act, including a laughter-inducing moment of waterworks.
In summary “Pride” would be completely forgettable if not for Terrence Howard who alone elevates this film a full star on the rating scale. But please, to all producers out there give this guy some better work. It’s a damn shame and waste of talent. Enjoy.
PS. As an aside, it’s interesting to note, there are 4 writers credited, and believe it or not, 16 producers!
Buy it here: Pride (Widescreen Edition)
I could only find the trailer, sorry: