• Studio:
  • Release Date: Dec 6, 2013
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 19, 2013
    91
    The Safdies have stood out over the last few years for continually challenging audience expectations even while seeming to adhere to conventional storytelling traditions, and that's certainly true here: You've never seen a sports movie like this before.
  2. Reviewed by: Gabe Toro
    Nov 19, 2013
    91
    Lenny Cooke isn't a documentary, it's an autopsy, detailing exactly why Cooke vanished off the map and why he struggled to get back into the game, a focus that goes micro where other sports docs go macro.
  3. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Dec 3, 2013
    90
    Ordinary life comes to look like a humiliation in the late reels of Lenny Cooke, yet another heartbreaker of a doc in which a compelling basketball story powers a discomfiting examination of a crisis facing young American men.
  4. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Dec 4, 2013
    83
    The question of why Cooke’s career never materialized hangs over the movie, but is never answered. What emerges instead is a portrait of a talented teenager being readied — by coaches, basketball camps, and the media — for a future that doesn’t arrive.
  5. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Nov 19, 2013
    80
    A penetrating and ultimately heartbreaking inventory of hard lessons learned on and off the court.
  6. Reviewed by: Leba Hertz
    Dec 20, 2013
    75
    Lenny Cooke is humbling, as well as a cautionary tale for young people thinking they can make the big time.
  7. Reviewed by: Odie Henderson
    Dec 6, 2013
    75
    This is quite a good sports documentary, moving and unafraid of making you work for its pleasures.
  8. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    Nov 19, 2013
    75
    While it verges on exploitation of the gentle giant at its core, it's also an effective bit of human drama, competently, and sometimes movingly, telling a story that deserves to be told.
  9. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Dec 12, 2013
    70
    A compellingly unconventional, elliptical sports documentary that explores the mysterious realm of might-have-been.
  10. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Dec 3, 2013
    70
    While Lenny Cooke’s considerable social and emotional resonance still doesn’t measure up to Hoop Dreams’, the Safdies beautifully evoke the other side of the professional game, the many basketball casualties who don’t get movies made about them.
  11. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Dec 6, 2013
    60
    This melancholy documentary shows how championship dreams can turn into a nightmare.
  12. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Dec 3, 2013
    60
    You walk away with far more questions than answers — a profile foul by any other name.
  13. Reviewed by: Nicolas Rapold
    Dec 5, 2013
    40
    Like the 1994 documentary landmark “Hoop Dreams,” Lenny Cooke measures out the years with a pensive jazz motif, but the film feels comparatively stuck on a couple of notes.
  14. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Nov 19, 2013
    40
    While a composited scene, in which has-been Lenny lectures his younger self about work ethic and wisdom, has an undeniable poignancy, actual tragedy remains far beyond the film's grasp -- as does any illumination beyond the unsurprising suggestion that Cooke just didn't want success as much as peers like LeBron James.

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