The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Howard’s ‘Pride’ fails to inspire

If you suddenly get the urge to see “Pride,” do yourself a favor. Go rent “Remember the Titans,” “Miracle” or even “Hardball” or “Take the Lead.” All of those hokey inspirational films in which a coach brings life and hope to an otherwise struggling team are far better than “Pride.”

“Pride,” directed by Sunu Gonera, tells the true story of Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard, “Crash,” “Hustle and Flow”), a man who starts a swim team for inner city kids at a soon-to-go-under Philadelphia recreational center. Aided by the center’s director (Bernie Mac), the kids succeed at their swim meets despite opposition from white teams, one of which is led by a difficult swim coach (Tom Arnold). While also managing to score a love interest (Kimberly Elise, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”), Ellis ultimately helps the youths learn to respect themselves and gives a gang-ridden part of town its pride back. Fancy that.

What’s remarkable about “Pride” is how it makes little sense at one point and then is completely predictable at another. Every few minutes, Ellis offers up yet another “inspirational” speech, all of which are so contrived they seem to be taken from the other sports films mentioned earlier.

Yet at other points in the film, crucial information seems edited out for time, leaving audiences briefly disoriented. Important pieces of development are left to the audience’s imagination, such as how a relationship between Ellis and the sister of one of his swimmers evolves or how the team goes from being unable to compete because people won’t race against them to winning most of their swim meets.

Another remarkable aspect of “Pride” is how they managed to cast Academy Award-nominated Terrence Howard. Maybe it’s a contract stipulation that once you’ve been nominated for or won an Oscar, you have to be in a movie that sucks. Like Halle Berry in “Catwoman.”

Howard doesn’t slack off, though. He’s a good actor and therefore does the best with what he’s given. He plays the role with conviction and strength. But it’s the ridiculous script that brings him down. Bernie Mac fares much better, mostly because no one really expects great things from him. He’s there to be funny and he delivers. Tom Arnold’s presence in the movie is jarring and unexpected at first, but he actually gives a decent performance.

Everyone else in the film is essentially forgettable. Audiences will find it difficult to remember names and faces after leaving the movie- again, this is the fault of the script, written by Kevin Michael Smith, Michael Gozzard, J. Mills Goodloe and Norman Vance Jr. Maybe it’s true when people say that too many cooks spoil the broth.

One positive point for “Pride,” however, is how it looks. Thanks to cinematographer Matthew Leonetti, and production designer Steve Saklad, some of the best parts of the film occur when no one is talking and the audience can just enjoy the look of the film.

Overall, this dramatization of Jim Ellis’ remarkable accomplishments does the real-life hero no favors. It would have been preferable to see a documentary or a more fleshed-out biopic about Ellis. Instead we are given this drawn out and overblown excuse for an inspirational film that is, quite simply, dead in the water.

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