ReelBob: 2017 Heartland Film Festival: ‘Game Day’ ★★★
For tickets and show times, please click here.
By Bob Bloom
I liked “Game Day,” but parts of it made me feel uncomfortable because, at a few moments, if felt condescending.
The story of a down-on-her-luck, self-centered tech wizard who gets life lessons in teamwork, while a young black man teaches her to play basketball has a patronizing vibe.
At times, it reminded me of “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” in which Will Smith instructs Matt Damon about golf and life.
That may be an unfair comparison, since the smaller-budget, independent “Game Day” is a more emotionally satisfying feature.
What Ricki, portrayed by Elizabeth Alderfer, learns after losing her business and, as she puts it, “being sued for everything,” is that no man is an island.
She takes a job at a small tech consulting firm that emphasizes teamwork and camaraderie. At first, she is excluded from “the boys’ club,” until the company’s IT guy basically encourages her to play ball.
Her new boss also stresses that she needs to mesh with her coworkers and that being a team player is the most important asset for his employees.
Ricki joins the company’s basketball team, but is terrible.
Across from her Chicago apartment is a playground where a group of young black men shoots hoops every day.
Determined to improve, she takes to the court to practice. Lucas (Romeo Miller), one of the players, reluctantly coaches after Ricki bribes him to do so.
What Lucas continually reminds Ricki is that basketball is a team sport in which every member relies on the other for success.
As Ricki improves, so does her standing at the company as well as her interpersonal relationships with her coworkers, who begin to accept her.
Writer-director John Susman smartly keeps the preaching and bromides at a minimum. Still, you feel as if young Lucas is overusing feel-the-ball, be-the-ball type of life lessons that are beyond his limited experiences.
The performances by Alderfer and Miller are personable, and their interaction feels genuine.
Susman also creates a mirror image of sorts as Lucas refuses help from anyone, determined to make it in life on his own. Ricki, who has slowly learned through pained experience that everyone needs a helping hand, attempts to dissuade Lucas from his path.
It takes a violent encounter — one of the movie’s clichéd and unnecessary subplots — to convince him otherwise.
“Game Day” is a light feature that, at times, does strain credulity, but overall is an entertaining outing.
I am a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). I also review Blu-rays and DVDs. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Links to my reviews can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
3 stars out of 4
5:45 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, Castleton Square
12:45 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16, Traders Point