"Inspired by true events. "The determined Jim Ellis starts a swim team for troubled teens at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation.
Been there. Done that.
"... marathon swimming is the most difficult physical, intellectual and
emotional battleground I have encountered, and each time I win, each
time I touch the other shore, I feel worthy of any other challenge life
has to offer." Diana Nyad
Pride is a cliché from the first frame to the end. But I can't change
the truth on which these stereotypes were built. In 1974 Jim Ellis
(Terrence Howard), a former swimmer now janitor, coaches a rag-tag,
sand lot group of talented minorities from the Philadelphia Department
of Recreation to state-wide championships in swimming by invoking PDR
(pride, determination, resilience). Been there, done that in movies.
Within the last year, several films were based on true stories told of
coaches and players overcoming odds to become winners: Gridiron Gang,
Glory Road, Coach Carter, and Invincible come to mind.
The difference from the usual fare is swimming, arguably not a strong
sport for minorities. The real difference is Ellis, who slowly gains
the trust of the lost young athletes at the local center. Ellis doesn't
harangue like Bobby Knight or physically react like Woody Hayes; he
just shows them how to swim precisely and focused while he also
reinforces their need for education. Along the way, of course, is the
hanging-about drug dealer/pimp with his alluring dollars and the
nagging but attractive single mom, who reluctantly hooks up with Ellis.
All this usually formulaic film fiction-inspired-by-real events is made
palatable by engaging actors and the spirit of this lovable coach,
still working to this day, who never gave up on the students. Love and
trust—sounds like an effective combo even for nations.
You've seen it all before, but you won't be bored because the truth
about hard work and love is romantic and enduring.
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