The Heart of the Game


Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 26
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 26
  3. Negative: 1 out of 26

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Critic Reviews

  1. Intimate, funny, moving and incredibly rousing -- even if you're allergic to sports movies.
  2. 88
    This distaff "Hoop Dreams" is less of an epic than the earlier movie, and less deep, but it's got more sunshine, too.
  3. If you or any kid over the age of 10 has even a half-interest in the definition of the word "teamwork," as well as the words "real-life suspense," this is the movie.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    It captures an authentic feel-good spirit and inspirational message that most Hollywood movies barely approximate.
  5. 88
    Sports movies have a purity of form. They always end with the big game, in triumph or heartbreak. So does The Heart of the Game, although the lawsuit still hangs over the team after the final free throw.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's a wrenching, ennobling essay on teamwork and the hard struggle to change one's life.
  7. 88
    A rousing and mesmerizing documentary.
  8. The film is a furious full-court press, its subjects aflame with the kind of passion only youth can furnish.
  9. 83
    This documentary (like the fact-based 2004 feature Miracle) demonstrates how powerful true sports stories can be when they delve into the mystery of leadership instead of falling back on nostalgia.
  10. 80
    An exhilarating story of loyalty and perseverance, The Heart of the Game succeeds as both inspiration and social commentary.
  11. 80
    Combines nonstop action with an absorbing story to become a classic on par with "Hoosiers" and "Hoop Dreams."
  12. It's a good bet for youth audiences (the PG-13 rating is for one instance of language) and finds plenty of thought-provoking subject matter courtside.
  13. 75
    The entertaining new documentary The Heart Of The Game at least acknowledges many of the same conflicts that arose in Hoop Dreams, even though it's really more about two outsized personalities and their infectious passion for the sport.
  14. 75
    What really matters in this film are the lead characters - Resler and Russell - who are interesting enough to warrant such a cinematic endeavor. The upbeat film touches on serious issues without becoming lugubrious.
  15. 75
    Serrill wisely divides his film into chapters according to year, which helps structure the story's natural repetitiveness.
  16. 75
    There's no denying the exuberant energy and emotional force of this movie. It gets to you.
  17. The end result is an interesting documentary that is as unpolished and gutsy as the championship-caliber high school hoop stars at the other end of his camera.
  18. Serrill has shot and edited The Heart of the Game in straightforward documentary style, with a narration by the rapper and actor Ludacris. But the dramas going on here, on and off the court, more than make up for any lack of flash.
  19. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Compelling but traditional feature.
  20. 70
    A sweet, engaging journey with the Roosevelt Roughriders, whose kindly coach encourages the girls to snarl like wolves and devour like lions.
  21. [Mr. Resler] turns out to be not only the heart of this particular game, but also its brains, lungs and unforgettably endearing mug.
  22. Making his feature-length debut after forging a career making socially conscious short films, director Ward Serrill never takes his eye off the ball, maintaining a sharp storytelling focus distilled from those seven years worth of footage.
  23. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Ward Serrill's feel-good doc, which covers seven years in the life of Resler's Roughriders, is hobbled by a narration so syrupy, it could be poured on pancakes. But the movie soars because of the sport's natural drama and its luck in finding a complex heroine.
  24. Genuinely touching and unquestionably sincere, the movie certainly has heart - but it could have used a little more game.
  25. The pat inspirational formula is followed to a sweaty T, although it comes here with an inadvertent side effect -- more than a few nagging questions never get answered.
  26. 30
    The resulting movie (2005) covers seven years and touches on some of the same social issues that gave "Hoop Dreams" its epic sweep, yet Serrill fails to treat any of them adequately, and the narrative loses its shape as events unfold.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. TomP.
    Sep 13, 2006
    Strong documentary. Holds together and holds attention. Sports junkies will love this.
  2. RostoforianD.
    Aug 4, 2006
    great movie all around..could use better direction and more plot, but still very enjoyable and intresting...a sweet film.
  3. KenG.
    Jul 21, 2006
    This really only focuses on two people. One (the star player) is interesting. The other (the coach) is not. Film-makers couldn't be This really only focuses on two people. One (the star player) is interesting. The other (the coach) is not. Film-makers couldn't be bothered to let us know anyone else. Doesn't work as a Cinderella story either, as the team had been a powerhouse for years, so movie is just about it taking the final step. Not really a bad movie, just not all that good. Full Review »