Glory Road

MPAA Rating: PG for racial issues including violence and epithets, and mild language

Reviewed by: Joseph Martinez
CONTRIBUTOR

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Teens, Adults
Genre:
Drama, Sports
Length:
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
January 13, 2006 (wide) / DVD release: June 6, 2006
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures
Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
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Featuring: Josh Lucas, Derek Luke, Austin Nichols, Evan Jones, Emily Deschanel
Director: James Gartner
Producer: Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Andrew Given
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures

“The incredible story of the team that changed the game forever / Based on a true story”

It seems that every year or so Hollywood produces another sports film. There is the underdog team that is destined to lose, and then suddenly at the end victory is in their grasp. It has become a cliche. With that in mind I recently asked Josh Lucas why he chose to do the film Glory Road. Lucas politely responded by pointing out that there is only 20 minutes of basketball in the whole film. He is right. Glory Road is much more than a basketball story; it is a civil rights story where the basketball court becomes the back of the bus.

This great film opens with a shot of the Hall of Famer Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) coaching a team of basketball players. His raw intensity is quickly showcased, he threatens to give a player a skirt since they were “playing like a girl,” the humor lies in the fact that at that moment he was coaching a girls basketball team. And with that we begin on a journey that is intense, warm, humorous and at times appalling. This “underdog” team is made up of talented, highly skilled players. They are underdogs because of the adversity that they face as they walk on the basketball court.

The film opens with a collage of shots and images of the world of the mid 1960’s, setting the context of this unbelievable story so that the audience can understand the magnitude of the events that are about to take place. In today’s world African-American men seem to dominate the world of basketball. The idea of black men not being allowed to play would seem unbelievable to this generation. This story takes place in an America when overt racism dominated the south and black men were thought to be too ignorant and weak to handle the stresses that came with playing such a highly skilled sport. It is a shameful reminder of the very recent past.

Don Haskins is recruited to coach Division 1 basketball for Texas Western in the city of El Paso, Texas. To put it simply, Don Haskins is a color blind man who simply wants to win. The fact that he is a winner made him a hero; the fact that he is color blind made him a legend.

Josh Lucas gives a great performance of this champion and the groups of actors that he works with are simply amazing. The chemistry among the group of young players is both humorous and inspirational. The acting is very believable. Jon Voight is mesmerizing as the legendary Coach Adolph Rupp.

What makes this film work is the struggle it chronicles. The viewer feels like they are in the back of the bus with the young black men as they travel across America being victimized because of the color of their skin. It is unbelievable to see how much we have come along in the 40 years since these events took place. This film is inspiring. It is a great triumph for first time director James Gartner. It is more than just a sports film as the main character is more than just a basketball coach. In recent memory I have not been to a screening where the audience is so enthralled with the film that is set before them.

The film does have some weaknesses. There seems to be too many characters and not enough development for each character. The sports commentator feeds the audience a narrative of the games as it is unfolding, assuming that we are too ignorant or blind to figure it out. Even someone who does not know a thing about basketball would know when the team is playing terrible.

I would caution anyone planning on taking a child to see this film that some of the scenes depicting racism may be too frightening for someone under the age of 10. There is a scene where one young man is assaulted and of course racist comments are voiced throughout the film. Other than that I would recommend this film to any person. There is nothing in the film that was either offensive or sin glorying. There is one sequence where the young men sneak over to Mexico to have a good time, and even that was refreshingly tame. I can whole heartily recommend this film to any Christian.

As the credits roll at the end of the film the audience can see and hear from the real people that this film is based on. It is amazing to see how one man can have an impact on so many lives. Don Haskins did not only blow open the door for young African-American men to play college basketball, but he opened the door for them to have the opportunity to go to college. The success of his triumph is more than victory on the basketball court, it changed the course of history, and it is the stuff that great movies are made of.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer Comments

Positive

Positive—Last night I saw the sneak preview of “Glory Road”. I’m still excited enough about this little gem to write my first-ever movie review. Go see this movie! It is AWESOME! In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and now her name is etched in African-American and Civil Rights history. Perhaps now for the first time, the names of both the black and white players on the 1966 Texas Western team will be placed on the memorial wall of true heroes who have broken down the racial barriers. What were the names of the black teammates who defeated legendary Coach Rupp’s lily-white Kentucky team for the 1966 NCAA Championship? (Nevil Shed, Harry Flournoy, David Lattin, Willie Worsley and Bobby Joe Hill) Ever heard of them?

Well, anyway, we all know the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons, 50 Cent, P. Diddy, Boyz N Da Hood and other heroes of the media elite, and what have they really done for the progress of African American people? Unfortunately, the media elite reviewers will probably pass off Glory Days as another mans man sports movie; calling it predictable, formulaic, done-before, blah, blah, blah.

Well, for sports fans, people fans, uplifting and motivating-movie fans, Glory Road is an AWESOME MOVIE! You will exit the movie after applauding the ending and feel good about yourself. You will actually be entertained by Hollywood for 106 minutes cheering for Coach Dan Haskins (Josh Lucas) and his Texas Western Miners as they struggle through an undefeated season, finally losing one game before meeting Kentucky for the national championship. That’s the main story but the determination and hard work of this former girls basketball coach and his players while enduring racial slurs and attacks from all sides provides the cutting edge that makes this film memorable and a true family classic.

The media elite reviewers will dismiss this movie and ignore it when the Golden Globe, Oscars, etc, nominees are mentioned. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon your outlook, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney Pictures couldn’t come up with a passionate boy-meets-boy in the locker room scene. Otherwise, the media elite reviewers would be calling Glory Road the Best Film of 2006 and One of the Greatest Love Stories. Ignore them and go see this movie with your entire family!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Ed Dougherty, age 59
Positive—Great movie! Very uplifting, very clean, nothing offensive. Safe for the whole family, although children under 10 may be bored as it is about race relations and overcoming what others think. Well acted, worth the price of admission.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Kimberly Keithahn, age 39
Positive—This was a great film, well acted, well done, with lots of redeeming values. Pretty clean no offensive at all. Christians can see it and enjoy it with clean conscience.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—WC, age 33
Positive—I just finished watching this movie with my entire freshman basketball team. This movie should (hopefully) show any observer that no matter what kind of obstacles you face and against any odds no matter how offensive, these are things you can overcome. The entire crowd in the theater was very involved, and this movie hit close to home with all. But one thing I hope all take away from this viewing, even with the United States’ past mistakes we are a great nation that admits mistakes, and we resolve to never let it happen again.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
—Steve Donovan, age 46
Positive—“Glory Road” was awesome! With four boys, ages 7-13, there are very few movies that my husband and I feel are appropriate for our whole family. This was one of those exceptions. We all enjoyed this movie immensely (our 7 yr. old was a little bored), and my husband even went back to see it the following night with some friends. It was right up there with “Remember the Titans”.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Rachelle Smotherman, age 32
Positive—This was a good movie. I generally find that sports movies are very alike and this was no exception. It was slow in parts, and I couldn’t help feeling that the characters were’re developed enough. But overall the story was engaging and very clean with an uplifting message.
My Ratings: Good / 3
—amy Gilles, age 18
Positive—“Glory Road” is the true story of Dan Haskins who is recruited from his position as a high school coach of a girls basketball team to be the Texas Western University basketball coach in the troubled South of the 1960s. When he arrives he finds that he has only white players on his team and a long losing streak. Since he has no desire to coach a losing team he decides to go on a recruitment road trip to offer full ride scholarships to local college talent and the best street players from as far away as the inner city of New York. When training starts, to the dismay of the community and the sport of basketball, he has brought on 7 new players, all of whom are colored. In 1965, white players dominated college basketball and a predominantly black team was just not even thought of, especially in the South. The saying of the day was to play one colored at home, 2 on the road, and 3 if you’re losing. Dan Haskins trains his team hard and along the road they all learn a thing or two from each other. He takes his team from having the worst record in NCAA to an almost perfect season, despite severe persecution from other teams and their supporters. In a bold move at the NCAA Playoffs, Haskins decides to start only black players, an unprecedented move that everyone on his own team agrees to and respects. This opens the door for blacks to have an influential role in basketball history as well as leading their team to victory against Kentucky State in the biggest upset in college basketball history.

Glory Road is not only about an incredibly talented team but also pays respect to a coach that took a chance against the norm, challenging the belief systems of the day. It is the story of a team who needed to come to grips with their own racist mindset. Although Glory Road is clearly about white racism in American society in the 60’s it is also very careful to point out that racism was not an exclusive right to the white culture but to the blacks as well.

“Glory Road” is very well acted however two people steal the show: Jon Voight, who plays the extremely racist Kentucky State coach, and Derek Luke who steals the show as the outperforming star of the team. The character development in this movie is great when it comes to the basketball players as a whole however the development of the coach and family man was severely lacking. In many of the articles I have read, this movie is about Dan Haskins but we do not really get to know him personally in the movie. The film focuses mostly on the fact that the team is so heavily stacked with black players, and less on Haskin’s role as a coach. I did not feel personally involved in the role played by Josh Lucas, although he did act the part well. Personally when I watch a movie about inter racial relations and a man defying the odds, I like to have a lot of development with his own family, background and what he is emotionally going through, all of which Glory Road was lacking. With that being said however, Glory Road was a great movie and I would say a must see movie for families. This is a movie that relies specifically on morals and heart instead of sex, violence and language.

I spoke with Jerry Bruckheimer after the movie for about ten minutes. When he heard that my readers are mainly Christians, he perked up and said, “This movie was made for them. I purposefully made a movie that did not have bad language, sexuality and violence, because I really wanted families to have a movie to go to as well as be able to learn something from.” Through the conversation he did state that he is, in fact, a Christian. I knew that many of you were wondering, so I asked the question. There was so much more to our conversation, which I will post at a later time, but let me tell you, Jerry Bruckheimer is one of the nicest and humblest Hollywood people I have ever spoken to. His heart and demeanor really try to relate to you on a personal level as do his movies. I also spoke with Derek Luke for a while and the guy is fantastic! Again his attitude toward fame is totally humble and he knows that without the viewers he is not a star.

I give “Glory Road” three and a half stars because the movie was great and had a message that everyone should see.

Warning to Parents: There are only 3 bad words in the movie and one fighting scene with little blood. This movie has NO sex, nudity, excessive violence or excessive bad language. I recommend this movie to everyone above the age of 7. Kids younger just may get bored.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—John Kehrli, age 31
Positive—I love this movie. The quality and moral of the movie was excellent. I would highly recommend this movie for the whole family. Not only is it good for older children but also for adults. It was sad to see how prejudiced it was. They really did a good job presenting this clean film.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Anonymous Viewer, age 49
Positive—I think this movie shows how people will react to racist slurs and proves that everyone is equal no matter what race they are.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Kimberly Johnson, age 21

Neutral

Neutral—I have not seen this movie, but I am disturbed about the revisionist history, particularly in the treatment of Adolph Rupp. If filmmakers are going to make a movie about actual, factual individuals, I find it reckless to portray them as “extremely racist” (as a viewer above stated) when such is likely not the case. I would actually like to see a sequel about Rupp and how he petitioned the South Eastern Basketball Conference to integrate for years. Or how he used his influence to put the first black basketball player on the US Olympic team. Those would be equally as inspiring and hopefully not mire an innocent man in the mud.
—Mike Walden, age 30
Neutral—Coming from a film background, as I’ve studied theatre in college, I think that “Glory Road” is just another average sports movie. “Glory Road” is no “Remember the Titans”, that’s for sure. The movie-making was very simple and left more to be desired. The story line was fine, yet some scenes were done specifically for Hollywood. The hotel scene never actually happened, which I found bothersome. That was the one part in the movie that I was able to finally experience the racial tension, and then to find out that it wasn’t even a part of the actual events made me upset. The team took a couple years to win the title, not just one. Minor details like that made the story more of a Hollywood production than a depiction of the events. I’d say “Walk the Line” was a much better film in terms of movie-quality. “Glory Road” is a movie to see, but I think the hype of it is overdone. It doesn’t have the crudeness of many Hollywood productions, yet viewers need to remember that Hollywood has made the storyline a bit more graphic to draw the audience in.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
—Angela, age 22

Comments from young people

Positive—This was overall a pretty good movie. It had good morals, strong acting, and there was almost no offensive material in it. The plot was rather formulaic, and reminiscent of the movie “Coach Carter” (also a good movie, although containing some more offensive material), but the plot worked well enough. I enjoyed this movie and would recommend it for families.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Emma, age 17
Positive—…an awesome movie! I think anyone who likes sports would thoroughly enjoy it. The actors are very good, and I took a lot away from from Coach Haskin’s talks with his team. It’s also a good history lesson too—what black players and their coaches went through. Some scenes may be disturbing to a few younger kids who watch it, so I’d suggest “Glory Road” for anyone older than 9. I LOVED the movie and plan on seeing it again in theatres!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Sarah L., age 15
Positive—Great film. One thing I noticed in the movie was that none of the players ever missed a single shot. But, anyway I thought this movie was pretty good. Good acting, storyline and bball playing. Them boys could play. Nothing offensive in this movie, it was sad to see the prejudice that went on back then. Also might be frightening to young children because they beat up one of the players pretty bad. Nothing deserving a higher rating than PG. All in all good movie to take the family to if all of the family is over 10. Probably boring to anyone else.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Nick Riportella, age 15
Positive—I went to see this movie today with the rest of the 8th grade. It was really good!! It was funny at parts; it was sad at parts; it was inspirational at parts, and a real eye-opener for those who aren’t so familiar with or don’t know that people were so racist just 40+ years ago!! It was really good! But, I agree with someone above when they said that kids under 7 will probably be bored, because they probably don’t understand the whole movie.
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Briana, age 13
Positive—I walked out of the theatre amazed. This movie was very good. This has to be one of the best films of the year. Great acting, movie quality, and a very good story. It is funny, sad, and entertaining. You don’t have to be a basketball fan to love this movie. I would love to see this movie again and get it on DVD when it comes out. There was one scene that was a little much and would probably be kind of frightening for younger children. Also, there were a few curse words. But other than that, it was great. There is finally a movie without saying God’s name in vain! There is also a scene where the players are saying a prayer before the game. I would recommend this movie to people 10 and up. Anybody younger than that might not get the movie that well. I give it two thumbs up and lots of other people do, too.…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Carolyn, age 12
Positive—It has a great moral and a great story behind it! It’s a great teen/adult movie!
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Cody, age 15
Positive—This movie was made by the same people who made “Remember the Titans.” That was the idea that most drew me to see this movie. The expectations I had because of Titans weren’t disappointed. This movie tells the same kind of story, minus the part that it is a basketball movie. “Glory Road” has superb acting, captivating drama, just enough humor to throw into the mix, and one of the best storylines in sports history, just like Titans. I have yet to see a movie come out in 2006 that is more worth your time than “Glory Road.”
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Ross, age 16
Negative—I think the movie was a good story. But …the movie was, in my opinion, bad filmmaking quality. After the wonderful movie “Remember The Titans,” this movie just goes flat. The pace of the movie was horrible. The characters were thrown at you, and you had to learn their names all at once. As I said earlier, it is a great movie story wise, but the man who edited the movie did not do well, and the script was a bummer.…
My Ratings: Good / 3
—Anderson, age 14
Neutral—While this wasn’t the worst movie I’ve seen, I’ve also seen many better ones. I didn’t like the way they exaggerated the racism, especially since it’s PG, and the true story it was based on was much different than the way the movie portrayed it. I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive kids, as they might get scared of some scenes. Younger kids would probably be bored with it.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Linda, age 14