Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. Reviewed by: David Denby
    90
    The movie is a volatile combination of ambitious mythmaking and nasty reality, and like most of Spike Lee’s work, it is also an inextricable combination of good and bad.
  2. 88
    Lee uses visual imagination to lift his material into the realms of hopes and dreams.
  3. As is often the case with Lee, though, the film left me wishing for even more scenes of casual intimacy, still the most powerful way to carry any message.
  4. Basketball, bold urban landscapes, larger-than-life characters and red-hot visual pyrotechnics are the strong points of Mr. Lee's biggest three-ring circus, not to mention the central presence of Denzel Washington.
  5. As usual, Lee tries many kinds of stylistic effects and uses wall-to-wall music (by Aaron Copland and Public Enemy); what’s different this time is how personally driven the story feels.
  6. Its best moments are as exuberant and insightful as anything the screen has given us this season, and its passionate concern for believable characters in a recognizably real world offers a refreshing change from the current spate of feel-good fantasies.
  7. He Got Game seems to cheer for integrity, honesty and hard work while playing up its own cheap thrills.
  8. 75
    This is essentially a familiar story told with consummate skill.
  9. Reviewed by: Gary Kamiya
    70
    Awkward and often downright silly, He Got Game is nonetheless heartfelt, a moving portrayal of a man who finds his long-lost son through faith, hope and basketball.
  10. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    70
    Flaws and all, this may be Spike's most purely enjoyable movie, and his best looking
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    Uneven, ludicrous, but--oh man!--fun to watch.
  12. For all his superfan's intimacy with b-ball culture, he focuses less on the sport's fascinating mystique than on generic recapitulation of how celebrity culture seduces and devours young minority athletes.
  13. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    60
    Lacking the moral indignation, outrage and militant politics that marked Lee's earlier work, this vibrantly colorful film is a tad too soft at the center, and arguably the director's most mainstream movie.
  14. He got too much movie. That's the scoring total on Spike Lee's He Got Game, which ultimately must be judged a mild disappointment.
  15. Reviewed by: Bruce Diones
    60
    The film is gorgeously shot (slow-motion basketballs spin in the air like Kubrick's spaceships), and the majestic Aaron Copland score helps some of the images to soar, but Lee's screenplay, heavy-handed and didactic, gives the actors little room to convey any real emotions.
  16. Coming from a major director like Spike Lee, this is a colossal disappointment. And a surprising one.
  17. 50
    Though too long by a good half hour, Lee's latest film packs a genuine emotional punch, largely because its polemical agenda doesn't entirely eclipse the drama.
  18. Reviewed by: Tom Meek
    50
    Lee makes a great looking film, though the soap box message about greed becomes exhausted and overplayed early on.
  19. The problem, sadly, is that the whole amounts to less than the sum of its parts.
  20. 20
    There's not a relationship in He Got Game that feels right, especially the one between Washington and Allen, and if that doesn't work, neither does the film.

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