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Movie Review

Pride a.k.a. P.D.R. (Philadelphia Department of Recreation)

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic material, language including some racial epithets, and violence

Reviewed by: Renee Kaster

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Adults, Teens
Sports, Drama, History
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 23, 2007 (1600 theaters)
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Copyright, Lionsgate
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate

What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

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?

A single man or woman can help change the world. Read about some who did with faith and God’s help…
Jesus Christ, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David

Featuring: Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Tom Arnold, Regine Nehy, Kevin Phillips, Evan Ross, Nate Parker
Director: Sunu Gonera
Producer: John Sacchi, Michael Paseornek, Victoria Fredrick
Distributor: Lionsgate

“Two can reach higher than one. Eight will touch a miracle.”

“Pride” is a movie of desire, determination and redemption. Inspired by a true story, Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard) suffered the consequences of racism and violence as young swimmer in 1964. After being turned down for a position as a math teacher at an affluent high school in 1973, Jim is placed at the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in Philadelphia. He is there only to prepare in the demolition of the center. Soon, he befriends the boys who play basketball at the center. Through his passion for swimming, Jim begins coaching the boys to become competitive swimmers. Jim and Elston (Bernie Mac), the janitor of the center, strive to keep it open.

Jim, eventually starts the first African-American swim team in the community, Philadelphia Department of Recreation (PDR). As the team begins to compete in meets, they must deal with the same hatred Jim experienced as a young swimmer. Emotions begin to rise, and Jim retaliates with violence to protect his team. However, his character is kept intact when he declines as the head coach during the state championships. He understands that his behavior is not the example he intended to be for his team. The team realizes that achieving success is not based on the color of skin, but on (PDR) Pride, Determination and Resilience.

The movie contains minimal profanity and racial slurs elicited by African-Americans, which may be offensive to some audiences. However, the message of determination, belief in oneself, surrendering to the misconceptions of society, becoming an example to youth, and repentance for mistakes are all contributors to a moral lifestyle. Mature audiences will appreciate this life-long message.

Spirituality is threaded throughout the entire movie. Through his love for the team and the sport, Jim’s faith is the catalyst for the personal growth of the team. When the team hosts their first meet at their recreation center, Elston (Bernie Mac) attends church and inspires the members of the congregation to attend the swim meet. This is a beautiful example of how important God, community, and family contribute to the success and dreams of others. Although Jim continues to struggle with racism in the film, he comes to a point when he realizes that some people just don’t change, and he surrenders to it. He believes his purpose is to be a positive example for the team and the community. He repents for his acts of violence. In the film, the opposing team, Mainline Academy, and the coach (Tom Arnold) belong to an affluent neighborhood. They portray much hatred toward PDR. After many competitions, Mainline’s team appreciate the pride and determination of PDR, and they too understand that success is not limited to the color of skin.

“Pride” is a powerful film that incorporates all aspects of spirituality and morality. Violence is portrayed only for the viewer to be aware of its negative consequences. Racial slurs may be offensive to some audiences. The lesson of faith in oneself and others helps the viewer to understand that the character and dignity of a person make all dreams possible to achieve.

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

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

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—I always am hesitant to view movies based on actual events. And seeing a movie such as this at times brings up feelings that I try to keep buried. However, I really liked this movie. As an Black man, I strive to make sure my children know what those who came before them went through to let them know where they need to go. The sin of hate is one that Christians have to face and combat daily and movies such as Pride can serve to show how we should rise above it and succeed as Christians and people. My children are older so I felt no apprehension with them seeing this, but children under 10 would be bored by the subject matter in my opinion.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3½
—Conrad, age 39
Positive—Being born and raised in north Philadelphia during this era I really appreciate the moral of this film which in my opinion is very good. This film depicts what’s happening in our communities back then and today. We need more people who care like Jim Ellis. From a biblical view point this film is a very good representation of stories in the bible. When coach Ellis lost himself and resorted to violence that was his emotions getting the best of him because he cares for our youth and his communities. What I like is he knew he made a mistake and was ale to explain it to the kids and remove himself from coaching in the state meet (REPENTANCE). I love this film and recommend it for all to view. There’s much to learn from this story of inspiration! Good job for those who had a hand in bringing this true story to film.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Bruce, age 42
Positive—As a swim coach of an african american team I could easily identify with the movie. It was extremely well done (story line, acting etc.) Some of the same myths and half truths still exist today concerning the abilities of african american swimmers. Hopefully, this film will dispell some of those false myths. The film is somewhat misleading as it suggest that all the accomplishments of the team happened in one swim season. However, the overall impact and story line is great. I’ve written two books on the subject the frist published 2003 'Swimming Against The Odds and the most recent published book (2008) Shimmy To Gold: Kelley’s Story. Both books focus on the movies' theme African Americans rise in competitive swimming.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Thurman W. Robins, age 67
Neutral—I thought this would be a great movie if it weren’t for the unnecessary profanity and lustful references. I was surprised how many times they said sh_t for a PG movie. Great story, good acting, unfortunately too much junk to show my kids, or even to watch again myself.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—BP, age 28
Negative—This would have been an uplifting and encouraging film, if there was no profanity. It was not mild, but extreme. I am not sure how this movie got a PG-rating.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
—Ericka, age 28
Comments from young people
Neutral—As for the story in its entirety, good film. The problem I have is that it leaves things unclear at the end. For example: what happened to the guy who sold drugs. And if there was even that character in the first place, why not show more problems African American teens face in that area than just drugs. As well, in my opinion everything was resolved to quickly. Even if it does not happen like that in real life, it’s supposed to be based on a true story. My father (who saw it with me) and I give it a C for the plot. It’s still a good film as far as the family and good moral values are concerned.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3½
—James Rhodes, age 15