2023. PG-13. Directed by Chris Robinson
Shooting Stars tells the story of a young LeBron James as he and his childhood best friends become one of the best high school basketball teams of all time and change the dynamic of high school basketball for years to come. While not necessarily adding anything new to the genre, Director Chris Robinson is able to put together a competent sports movie that not only showcases the rise of one of the greatest athletes of all time but also shows the struggle and hard work put in by these young men to become a team that will go down in history as one of the best.
This movie is based on the book of the same name written by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger. Despite James being one of the writers of the book the movie does a good job at not just solely focusing on him and allowing time to be spent with the other boys in his group. The first half of movie focuses more on Dru (Caleb McLaughlin) and his family but still spends time with LeBron and their other two friends Sian and Willie. It's nice to see the movie give some depth to all of its main characters and not only focus on the one who everyone already knows. I do wish the story made a little more time for both Sian and Willie but they still get developed enough to where it works out in the end.
As far as basketball movies go, this is a good addition to the lineup. While it doesn't do anything new and keeps to the typical formula that doesn't take away from the storytelling behind it. Robinson is able to get you invested in these kids and ,wants you to see their rise to greatness. It helps too that the way the movie is written allows these kids to feel like real kids. A lot of movies sometimes write kids a certain way where they don't really feel like real kids. Here, the dialogue and the way the boys all interact with one another feels authentic and doesn't ever feel like the filmmakers are trying too hard to make them sound unique or cool just for the sake of it.
The cast here is great, and everyone puts in a good performance. All four of the main boys are great in their roles but it's Caleb McLaughlin who is the standout. While he's always been good on Stranger Things, this movie is able to really show off his acting chops like never before and it's clear he is going to have a bright acting future. Dermot Mulroney as the coach has a good dynamic with the boys and comes off feeling natural, like he could be a basketball coach in real life. Wood Harris gets most of the heavy lifting out of the adult cast. Harris has always been a great character actor and he brings it once again to his role here.
Overall, Shooting Stars is a great addition to the sports genre. While it doesn't do anything new or original, it's able to set itself apart from other basketball movies and make you care for the characters it puts on screen. Add in a stellar cast and some great basketball action and this is one to definitely check out, especially if you're a fan of basketball.