Let's scrap the history of motivational sports movies for a while. Pretend that "Glory Road" is the only one. There is no "Hoosiers," no "Remember the Titans," and no "Mighty Ducks." In this reality "Glory Road" is a great film, capturing the heroic struggle of Texas Western's men's basketball team (The Miners) as they became the first team with five black starters in NCAA history.
But "Glory Road" can't escape the past and compared with the aforementioned classics of the genre, it falls short. Not an air ball by any means, but the ball never makes it into the hoop.
The movie easily draws comparisons to "Remember the Titans" with its racially driven themes but where Titans created a true clash between the races both within the team and outside of it, "Glory Road" never seems to be able to create the same tension. The aspects are there; a coach who is threatened, a nervous school, white players pushed aside for black, but they never add up to anything great.
The movie also lacks the classic theme of a team coming together. The Miners are always good and the audience knows that they are good. There is no tension in the games because there is no tension in the team dynamic. The players play well together from day one.
Maybe all this happened because the film makers felt they had to condense everything. The racism, the team practice, the coach's life all condensed into a single season of basketball when in truth The Miners' road to glory took five seasons and Don Hoskins, played by Josh Lucas, the coach of the team, was starting with five black players not only for the NCAA championship but for the entire season in 1966.
It seems that the true story was not quite true enough for the film. This is why the film's shot at glory bounces off the rim. In reality there were five years of training and team molding and racism and controversy for this team to go through, but in the movie they only get a season of it.
Unfortunately the impact of a socially historical moment is lessened by the fact that the historical aspect is gone.
Lucas and the rest of the cast do an admirable job with a script that tries to cram too much into too little. Some scenes seem choppy and cut up, while others jump around and don't connect. It's hard not to be happy when the team wins but the background behind the win feels cheesy and melodramatic.
"Glory Road" changes the truth for entertainment. Unfortunately the entertainment is in the truth, something Hollywood needs to figure out.
— Matt Razak