As I watched "Pride" my thoughts constantly drifting to "Coach Carter" as they are very similar movies, both based on true stories, both about inspiring kids through sport and both having a very similar style. Now if I was being mean spirited I could say that makes "Pride" another cliche inspirational sports movie which brings nothing new to the big screen and recycles elements from other movies from racial issues to drug dealers. But I am not in a mean mood and whilst I can't ignore the fact that whilst based on a true story "Pride" is a familiar and predictable movie it is entertaining and achieves what it sets out to do and that is inspire.
As the only black swimmer on the swim team Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard - Get Rich or Die Tryin') met with a lot of racism, it lead to a criminal record when he snapped and punched a racially abusive cop. Seven years later and Jim finds little has changed when he applies for a coaching position at the Main Line Academy and is turned down because his face doesn't fit. Assigned by the local works department to help care take the Marcus Foster Recreation Center in Nicetown, Pennsylvania he discovers a dirty pool which he cleans up but starts teaching the kids who hang outside to swim, turning them into a team. But with them becoming good enough to enter swim meets Jim knows that they are going to face the same issues he did.
So as I already mentioned "Pride" is based on the true story of Jim Ellis who formed the PDR (Pride, Determination, Resilience) swim team. And as already mentioned "Pride" ends up not only a very familiar movie but also ultimately a predictable one which works through the elements which tend to fill these sorts of inspiration sports movies. As such we have Jim making a difference in some of the teenager's lives, standing up against local street drug dealer Franklin whilst also bringing pride back to the neighbourhood whilst also confronting a lot of racial issues. You can tell how all this will play out, especially as Jim has kept his criminal record a secret and to be honest it doesn't really deliver grittiness when it comes to the reality of the situations such as the trouble with drug dealers.
Now for some that will make "Pride" not only just another inspirational sports movie but also one which fails to be gritty or bring anything new other than swimming to the mix. But in truth it still works, strangely in that familiarity "Pride" is entertaining and whilst manipulative when it comes to being inspiring it is stirring even if it fails to be deep. Don't get me wrong as there are much better inspirational sports movies but this one does the job it set out to do which whilst paying homage to the work of Jim Ellis also inspiring the audience and reminding them "Life is what you make it".
As for the acting, well again you will see better in other movies but the performances of Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac and several very toned young actors is good enough to keep you watching. Again it is that element of familiarity which causes the problems because whilst we may have Jim being a swim coach the way the character is written makes him your standard inspiring coach. And as for some of the other casting well no matter how much I like Tom Arnold he seemed wrong as the coach of the Main Line swim team because he is too jokey in his mannerisms.
What this all boils down to is that "Pride" whilst based on a true story ends up a familiar movie, another inspirational sports movie which goes through some familiar ideas. It isn't great but it is entertaining and inspiring which is what it set out to do whilst also paying homage to Jim Ellis.