I went to see Pride, the movie. It was given several very neutral reviews, mostly because the theme. The theme of underdogs triumphing has been rather overdone over the years. I decided to go see the film, because I like films along this theme, and because I was on the local swim team from age six until college.
There were just a few oddities in the whole thing. It is based on reality, and there is a real Jim Ellis who coaches a real PDR team, but I think the film simplified things to cut down on cast. The team has about 8 members…and they somehow win meets against teams of normal size…And the speed at which the kids became fine swimmers, after not knowing how to swim at the beginning of the film, not very realistic. We often had kids about age 12, who had just learned to swim, and it really took them a long long time to catch up to the rest of us, more than one season, even if they were football/baseball/basketball stars. This is the same in any sport, the longer you do it, the more natural it becomes.
It wasn't until about halfway through the film that I realized something odd. I have probably swam against this team (the real one) in some incarnation in the 80's. While some of the names were clearly made up….Main Line Acadamy probably isn't a real place, the main line is an area of septa that goes out into the wealthier burbs of Philadelphia. But, Mercer is a real Academy and it does have a very good swim program. My community team swam against all these guys.
There were definitely moments which brought back swimming memories. I remember when the mens speedos were all the rage, and we girls used to giggle helplessly at the boys, who would cringe and turn red.
The moment when the PDR kids enter into the big tournament and the kids see the huge pool was also just great. I always felt like that when we would enter into an area with a Olympic sized pool. I grew up swimming in a regular sized pool, and an ultra small one, the size of the one in the film. Each time I went to a bigger regional competition, it was held in a huge pool. I did feel like I was swimming in an ocean!
Despite the neutral reviews, the film was worth my money, especially as a matinee.
It was hopeful and inspirational. I felt it gave a fairly accurate representation of the times (though I really can't say, as I wasn't really a cognizant being during the times.The "tough love" exhibited by Terence Howard, playing Jim Ellis, was done convincingly without becoming maudlin. Bernie Mac as the head of maintenance was fabulous, very different from his television show, showing him to have more depth than I would have imagined.
In the actual theatre itself, I was a little self concious and surprised. It was a matinee so the audience was small, but I was the only white person there. This didn't bother me, as I'm sort of used to it, but I'm still surprised by it. I can't imagine that this is some sort of "African American only" production. Some films, like "Soul Plane", I can see were not really intended to attract a white audience (though it was hysterical to me.). I did get a few strange looks from a few people at the film as I was leaving. As swimming is still not really a minority sport, I was very surprised. I would have loved to see a film like this back in Jr. High. Swimming was not really though of as anything, unless the summer olympics were happening. This film shows how althletic and competitive it can be. So, I hope more people do go and see it, as it is definitely worth the 2 hours and the money. I imagine also that quite a few summer swim programs will be bursting to the seams this summer! Yay for that!