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2008-05-06 17:42
What it's about:

Pride is an underdog sport drama based on a true story in 1970s Philadelphia, directed by Zimbabwean Sunu Gonera. It tells the story of American former swimmer-turned coach Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), who started a black swimming team in a rough Philly neighborhood. He recruited and trained troubled teens who had never swum before and lead them to the state championships.

What we thought of it:

Sport movies can be clichéd and predictable. But what first makes Pride stand out is that it's about swimming and not the usual suspects like basketball, football or hockey. Secondly, it's about darkies who can actually swim.

Terrence Howard dives into the character of swimming teacher Jim Ellis and completely owns the role. Ellis, who is a former swimmer and college graduate with a degree in Mathematics, drifts into teaching mainly because the color of his skin prevents him from finding a job despite his qualifications. He settles for a job at a dilapidated recreation centre, the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, to help keep it from closing down.

Jim recruits a gang of kids who like hanging around the centre and forms a team. The team then ends up facing a series of obstacles to overcome like – racism from rich white schools, sexism because they have a girl in their team and the local street thug who tries to disturb the peace and progressive spirit in the community.

Other than that, there's nothing too dramatic on the cards and the film loses potential intensity as it follows the usual cheesy sport flick lines. Kimberley Elise's character is wasted as Ellis's potential love interest. Her role isn't developed and nearly ends up being merely a cameo.

Old and grumpy Elston (Bernie Mac) provides some comic relief as Ellis's sidekick with an engaging performance. But Howard truly steals the show by completely losing himself in his character.

It's the 70s, and the soundtrack adds to the ambience of the era with classics from artists like Aretha Franklin, The Isley Brothers, James Brown, The O'Jays and a fresh track by R&B crooner John Legend titled "Dare to Dream".

Ultimately, Pride is a heart-warming and sincere story with no frills.

- Gugulethu Mkhabela

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A sincere, heart-warming sport drama based on a true story.

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