Pride (US - DVD R1)
Gabe drowns in an inspirational pool of genre clichés while viewing this re-tread
This is the 'true' story of Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), a former up and coming swimmer whose dreams were crushed by racism in the 1960s. As an adult in the 1970s, he's unable to find work as a teacher he finds himself cleaning up a soon to be decommissioned recreation centre in one of Philadelphia's roughest neighbourhoods. After cleaning out the centre’s pool he decides to coral the unmotivated youth and turn them into a swim team. His team then faces the same racist problems he did in the '60s.
Racism is an awful thing, as is poverty, and both will always make for intriguing drama. The problem is that both issues can be exploited in broad and hackneyed terms in popular film. Another broad and hackneyed film tradition is the underdog story. I am personally and particularly bored by sports themed underdog stories. As far as I'm concerned, the genre peaked with Slap Shot (and the last straw should've been Shaolin Soccer's awesome spoof).
So what happens when these two broad and hackneyed genres combine and graced with the oh-so-overused 'based on a true story' tag? Well, I can assure you that there are plenty of triumphant uphill battles, sleazy comic-book bad guys, and montages set to period appropriate music. The long and the short of it is, Pride is, generic title and all, exactly the movie you'd expect it to be.
I won't go on for paragraph after paragraph of complaining because the film could've been a whole lot worse. It's predictable as hell, but the 'get up and cheer' moments elicited a tiny hint of swell in my otherwise bored heart. The acting is generally pretty good, including headliners Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac, who are good in pretty much everything they touch, but nobody seems to be pushing themselves other than the cinematographer. Pride looks great, beyond the usual hipper-than-thou music video stuff found in similar films like Remember the Titans.
Pride has good intentions, but I don't see anyone remembering the film more than a week after seeing it. It's not bad; it just trips over the clichés of two very overplayed genres. I only recommend it to fans of the actors, and those who just can't get enough of folks overcoming unbeatable odds. Oh, and those who just can't get enough man-candy. There are almost as many nearly naked man bodies in this film as 300, and these ones aren't trying to kill each other, so perhaps the ladies (and some of the men) will have a ball (no, uh, pun intended).
As I said in the review, the film looks fantastic, and the transfer does not disappoint. The saturated colours are bright without bleeding or blooming. Details are sharp without any noticeable edge enhancement. There is some grain, but no more than we should expect from film. I think some of the highlights may be too white, but this is probably a stylistic choice on the filmmaker's part. All in all very good, and better than I've come to expect from recent LionsGate releases.
If you didn't find the story content full of cliché’s, then the soundtrack is sure to make intentions obvious. The original score (and I use the term very lightly) is a mix of every inspirational cue ever in the history of inspirational movies. The other music is good soul and funk from the era the film takes place, but nothing we haven't heard a billion times before. There are plenty of good songs out there just begging to be used in a period piece.
Anyway, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is crisp and clean. The channels aren't all that busy, but the surround and stereo effects work nicely. Most of the impressive stuff is reserved for the music, and the bass is really aggressive here without acting overbearing or warbling.
The relatively light extras begin with a good natured but ultimately awful commentary track. Director Sunu Gonera is so proud of the film's broad and hackneyed elements, and his just enough pretension to claim his work and the work of those in his film is genius. He also spends way too much time reiterating what is specifically happening on screen, and covering very obvious subtext. He must have gone to the Arnold Schwarzenegger school of commentary track recording.
There is one deleted scene, and a series of extended scenes. The deleted scene is actually one of the best things to come out of the movie. I haven't seen it a million times before, it's warm hearted, and Bernie Mac gets a chance to shine like I haven't seen him shine in a while. The extended scenes are more of the usual drivel that always adorns sports films, twenty-five minutes of it. I'm glad they cut the stuff they did. All the extended scenes pertain to the film's climatic final match. All the deleted and extended scenes are anamorphically enhanced, but aren't in 5.1 surround.
Just in case you didn't get enough musical montage, LionsGate's got three more for you here, made just for the DVD. Really, really silly and most of them use the exact same footage. And if you're a fan of B-List trailers, there's about fifteen minutes worth here for you.
Pride isn't inept, but it isn't very impressive either. It culls every heavy-handed moment from every underdog story, every race or class related film, and every film that has something to do with sports. If you want more of the same, some nice visuals, and some above average performances, then by all means, proceed. The DVD itself looks and sounds good, and has a decent collection of extras.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may not be suitable for children
Release Date: 26th June 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Extras: Director Commentary, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Music Montages, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Sunu Gonera
Cast: Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Kimberly Elise, Tom Arnold, Brandon Fobbs
Length: 109 minutes
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