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As a movie goer, I get burnt out on the anti-hero themes and the constant push for inclusiveness for the sake of inclusiveness spurred by present popularity. Getting those story types crammed down my throat was blissfully absent in this film. It’s about family, hard times and good times, the ups and downs and tragedies of living on the financial edge and the battleground of East LA. The main take-away must be the refrain of not giving up on a dream and how dedicated parenting goes a long way to making a child’s dream become a reality. I know this because I had a mom who thought her kids were phenomenal. (Not all of us are but Mom never let that get in the way.)

Then there’s the acting. I doubt that I will ever forget the bleak misery in Will Smith’s eyes as he watched the TV news clip of Rodney King getting beaten by LA cops, a revisitation of his past, his terror of cowardly gang members threatening his daughter, the scarring of his life embittered by the brutality and viciousness of racisim. (It has been suggested that his own racist behavior was muted in this movie.)

I wish that the irony of how his hard-luck life strengthened his determination to see that his children would never suffer the same was more clearly articulated. It’s there, but I had to wonder if it ever crossed King’s mind that his plans and fathering habits were honed due to his travails at the hands of societal monsters.

Will Smith deserves every award nomination he will get for this film. Emmy award recipient Aunjanue Ellis deserves accolades as well. The young ladies (Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sideny) had not only to act but also play tennis well. The filming of the court action maintained a high level of tension. Most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the steadfast love and family loyalty throughout. Some of us are starved for more of that, not the candy-coated slop of the fifties and sixties, but how families can overcome through love, faith, and a goal that reaches for the best in us. See the film. There is much to admire.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

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