Rated PG; Directed by James Gartner; Starring Josh Lucas; Derek Luke, Damaine Radcliff, Jon Voight, Emily Deschanel
The story of an underdog team overcoming all sorts of obstacles to make it to the big game is an overused staple in movie plots. When done well, the story can be an invigorating experience, but usually this type of film just relies on hitting the preset plot points and letting the audience’s preference for this genre to carry the story to its final predictable end. “Glory Road” hits some of those preset plot points, but manages to offer enough interesting angles to make it entertaining. It doesn’t hurt that the story is a true one and looks back at a trailblazing coach and team.
“Glory Road” tells the story of Don Haskins, the new basketball coach of small Texas Western College. Discovering that money is non-existent for recruiting promising players, Haskins (Josh Lucas) does something unheard of in 1965 college basketball – he recruits black players for his team. Upsetting the usual cast of characters (the booster club members, other coaches, and the usual yahoos of a bigoted culture), Haskins has to make a skilled team from both his white and black players. He does a magnificent job and Texas Western begins a remarkable roll to the NCAA championships, eventually meeting up against the Kentucky team led by legendary coach Adolph Rupp (played by Jon Voight in face-changing makeup).
“Glory Road” does an okay job. The story moves along at a fast clip, the actors do an okay job, and the basketball sequences are often exciting. We do get the usual ups and downs in a movie of this sort, with the ups telegraphed by the “inspirational” music. Sometimes it feels as if scenes were cut that better explained later sequences, which weakens the film.
Still, “Glory Road” offers a pleasant movie outing. This history making team deserves a movie and their story is an exciting one. If you go see “Glory Road” do stick around for the credits. Interviews with the real players and others involved in that final game are shown. It’s the best part of the movie.