Shooting Stars

This made-for-Peacock movie shoots some hoops.

“Shooting Stars” is a pretty good take on how LeBron James began his early career as a basketball star. But this small biopic, released on Peacock, isn’t just about him; but also his teammates and friends, who would also become basketball stars, too.

The movie is not interested in his whole life, but rather his teenage years, which delivers with the right intentions. And it’s uses some fine young actors to bring out the best qualities of the players. This is also based on the book, written by LeBron and Buzz Bissinger, with the screenplay being written by Juel Taylor, Frank E. Flowers, and Tony Rettenmaier.

We meet young LeBron James (Marquis Mookie Cook) and his friends: Dru Joyce III (Caleb McLaughlin), Willie McGee (Avery Serell Wills, Jr.), and Sian Cotton (Khalil Everage). They’re known as the Fab Four. Until Romeo Travis (Sterling Henderson) ends up in their group, which is now known as the Fab Five.

Dru wants to join the St. Vincent-St. Mary school, so he and his friends can play together. He manages to convince the gruff coach Keith Dambrot (Dermot Mulroney) to let them try out, and he’s impressed with their game play. I don’t really think he is convincing in the role, based on how he presents the character, even though he makes a point about making these players humble.

Wood Harris (who last LeBron entry was unfortunately “Space Jam: A New Legacy”) plays Dru’s father Dru Joyce II, who is also their basketball coach, who takes over for Dambrot after he moves on up. He prepares them for the big leagues, and not to let their wins get to their heads. He’s more convincing as a coach than Mulroney, because of how he represents a loving father with some ambition and heart.

The movie lags when we see these boys going to parties, and listening to music in their car. These moments seem too arbitrary, but there are complications in the boys’ lives that we’re more interested in.

I’m not too familiar with their lives, so I can’t really say what is true and what isn’t, but I do know that LeBron was accused of accepting bribes when he was a given sports jerseys. In the movie, we just see one guy giving him a shirt before having their picture taken. This leads to the film’s turning point.

“Shooting Stars” works more for the performances than it does on the pacing, and some of them are new faces. Marquis Mookie Cook makes an impressive debut in the ways he channels LeBron in his youth without being so juvenile about it. McLaughlin does some good work as Lil Dru. And I’ve already mentioned how good Harris is as his father and coach.

Director Chris Robinson (“ATL”) gives a passionate look at the players and their dreams. And as a producer, LeBron has made the better movie about himself this year than he did last January with “House Party.” Especially since this is based on his book. And this finds a spot in the Peacock streaming service for basketball fans.

A few technical fowls don’t damage this game.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Streaming on Peacock

Categories: Biography, Drama, Sport

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