Pride (2007)

Rated: PG Grade: ABBB=B+

Directed by: Sunu Gonera. If you ask, “Who?” That’s right. His first movie.

Starring: Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Kimberly Elise, Tom Arnold, Brandon Fobbs, Kevin Phillips, Nate Parker, Regine Nehy, Evan Ross, and Alphonso McAuley.

Summary: In this true story set in 1973, Howard plays Jim Ellis, a black swimmer who was kept out of competition and coaching because of racism and now has been hired to help tear down a community rec center. In the process, he befriends a few local teens, teaches them to swim, and then finds out that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Entertainment Value: A I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about this movie at first because it had both Tom Arnold and Bernie Mac in it. But I usually enjoy Terrence Howard, so we tried it. Call me a sucker, but I just love a feel-good sports movie. And despite so many of them being made recently, they’re still all good. The plot, the characters, and the overall effect are quite good. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Superficial Content: B Drugs/Alcohol B , Sexuality B+, Violence B , Language B, Illegality B. This is a solid PG. Most of the objectionable elements here involve a local thug who is trying to get the boys back into a life of crime and drugs with him. And everything is well within the PG range.
Significant Content: B And here I find myself in a bind I wish I weren’t in. The movie is clearly an A for significant content. Racism is awful. Believing in people but holding them to a standard that challenges them is the best way to cultivate their hidden talents. Do the thing that’s in front of you, and you may find your calling. Plus there’s a healthy critique leveled at shrugging off failure and joking around about it instead of taking seriously the obligation to be excellent at something. But I can’t give it an A because of one scene involving a fist-fight which the movie portrays as a grievous mistake although I thought it was perfectly justified and appropriate. If a 5th grader could tell you all the capitals of every state but couldn’t tell you the country he lived in, you just couldn’t give him an A.

Artistic/Thought Value: B Perhaps it’s because there have been so many movies made criticizing racism and because there have been so many good sports stories that I just can’t give another member of that crowd an A for art value. Don’t get me wrong, for a first effort, it’s fine. But some of the elements are a bit far-fetched and overdone in my opinion.

Discussion Questions:
  • We think of it as being very normal to take the side of our family members or of our country, but we tend to think of it as being very wrong to take the side of people who share our race. What do you think of these distinctions? Is racism just family-ism taken to a larger scale? Should Christians favor even their own family in this way?
  • What do you think of the two times people threw punches in this movie? Were they justified? What about the consequences of each?
  • Do you think it’s important to keep making movies that show how awful racism is? Why do you think moviemakers believe this but then don’t think that drugs, sex, irreverence, and violence matter much in movies?
  • Many times movies based on a true story are shown in a compacted way with the events of several years shortened and shown as one sequence with the same people. If events are worth retelling, why do filmmakers feel the need to enhance them beyond the original facts?
  • What do you think of the way the boys treat their friend who stutters? Would you describe them as good or bad friends for this treatment? Do you think they love him?
  • Marcus’s sister is concerned that her brother will fail at school because he’s trying to succeed at swimming. What are some of the benefits students gain from being in sports? How would you compare these with the benefits of academic education?
  • The boys at one point act as if losing does not matter because acknowledging that it did would have been embarrassing for them. Is this a healthy way to deal with failure? Talk about whether this tendency shows up more or less in different ethnic groups. Consider blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and whites for starters.
  • What matters more in competition: heart or skill and training?
Overall Grade: B+ Good. Solid. Like most other racial sports movies. I think Glory Road was better, but this was still good.

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