SBD/1/Sports Industrialists

SPIKE LEE AND RAY ALLEN SHOW THEY BOTH GOT GAME IN FILM

          "He Got Game," a SPIKE LEE film starring DENZEL
     WASHINGTON and Bucks G RAY ALLEN, opens nationwide in
     theaters today.  The Touchstone Pictures presentation tells
     the story of Jesus Shuttlesworth (Allen), a talented high
     school basketball player from Coney Island who must choose
     from the various colleges recruiting him.  The decision is
     complicated by the release of his father Jake (Washington)
     from prison after serving a six-year term for murdering his
     wife, Jesus' mother, and the pressures of friends, coaches,
     agents and groupies who want a piece of Jesus' success.  The
     film includes cameos by MICHAEL JORDAN, DEAN SMITH, CHARLES
     BARKLEY and SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, among others (THE DAILY).
          HE CAN ACT: In N.Y., Janet Maslin praises the film as
     an "explosion of spectacular gambits and a great high-
     concept hook."  Allen gives a "likable, unaffected
     performance that would be fine even if he weren't an NBA
     star" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/1).  NEWSWEEK's David Ansen calls the
     film "a celebration of the game of basketball [and] an
     expose of the game's corruption."  Lee's script is "sharp on
     the specifics of the sports world," and Allen is
     "inexperienced but winning" (NEWSWEEK, 5/4).  SI writes that
     Allen gives a "measured performance" and "never seems out of
     his league" in a film that "deftly portrays the exploitation
     of and the pressure put on young potential millionaires"
     (SI, 5/4 issue).  VARIETY's Emanuel Levy writes the film is
     a "tad too soft," but notes the "immensely engaging" Allen,
     who gives an "utterly convincing performance that draws on
     his youth and vulnerability" (VARIETY, 4/27).  In Chicago,
     Roger Ebert calls Allen a "rarity, an athlete who can act"
     (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/1).  Also in Chicago, Michael
     Wilmington: "Giving us much more than usual for a Hollywood
     sports movie, Lee shows us the sordid underpinnings of
     modern 'amateur' sports, while also conveying family
     heartbreak and the sport's real savage beauty" (CHICAGO
     TRIBUNE, 5/1).  In Boston, Jay Carr writes that Lee has
     "folded virtually the entire [NBA] into a fiercely loving
     story about fathers and sons and family, with basketball as
     the delivery system."  It is one of Lee's "best" films and
     Allen "does a miraculous job of blending rage and confusion"
     (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/1).  In DC, Stephen Hunter writes the film
     is about "sports as workplace culture and vernacular of
     physical expressiveness.  It worships at the altar of the
     game."   He credits Allen's performance but calls the film a
     "mild disappointment" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/1).  On CBS "This
     Morning," Gene Siskel said Allen "is very good in his acting
     debut" (CBS, 5/1).  In Minneapolis, Jeff Strickler writes
     that Allen "handles the dramatic aspects of the role
     surprisingly well."  Lee "holds back nothing as he lambastes
     the exploitation of young athletes" by the sports industry,
     but he doesn't "blame the game for these problems"
     (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/1).  The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's
     Michael Rechtshaffen writes Allen "shows sensitive focus
     within a limited range" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/1).  
          ONE CON: In N.Y., Dave Kehr writes that Allen is "no
     more than adequate" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/1). 
          PUPPY CHOW: Lee is profiled in the WASHINGTON POST and
     says that the agent for KEVIN GARNETT and STEPHON MARBURY
     asked that Lee guarantee one of the two the lead role or
     neither would act in the film.  Lee said neither player was
     asked to audition: "There ain't no guaranteed contracts,
     buddy.  This is a film" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/1).

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