Shooting Stars — Life is more than fame

Shooting Stars — Life is more than fame

Biographical sports dramas have a way of uniting people around those whose big dreams seem unattainable but are realized in the most unlikely manner. Shooting Stars, directed by Chris Robinson, tells the story of four friends who brought their high school basketball team to unsuspecting heights. One of those players is four-time NBA champion, LeBron James. This inspirational story becomes a medley of friendship and talent that keeps high school superstar LeBron focused on what’s important. It’s more of a coming-of-age movie with basketball binding the story together. 


LeBron (Marquis “Mookie” Cook) and his three best friends, Lil’ Dru (Caleb McLaughlin), Willie McGee (Avery Serel Wills Jr.), and Sian Cotton (Khalil Everage) dominate their middle school basketball team under the training of their coach and Lil’ Dru’s dad (Wood Harris). Coach Dru guides these young men in life and on the court to help them prepare for high school placements. They’re a tight group from a working-class neighborhood in Akron, Ohio. Several of them may have headed on a less than salvific path if Coach Dru didn’t draw them to his team, the Shooting Stars. 


Khalil Everage as Sian Cotton, Caleb McLaughlin as Lil’ Dru, and Avery Serel Willis Jr. as Willie McGee.

Universal Pictures. All rights reserved. 


McLaughlin dominates the beginning of the film. As the friends complete eighth grade, Lil’ Dru’s small size lands him on the junior varsity team of their local high school while LeBron, Willie and Sian all make it onto varsity. Not wanted to waste his talent on junior varsity, Lil’ Dru hears of the new basketball coach at the neighboring Catholic school, St Vincent’s-St Mary’s. He convinces coach Keith Dambrot (Dermot Mulroney) into accepting all members of the Fab Four, as they call themselves, onto his varsity team with full scholarships, including Lil’ Dru himself as he sinks three perfect three pointers to prove his worth. He convinces his friends to put on their white shirts, ties, and khakis and head to the Catholic school to play ball. They ask what the mascot is, and Lil’ Dru responds, “the Irish.” They jokingly complain that they will be known as “the Black Irish.” At St Vincent’s they meet Romeo Travis (Scoot Henderson) whose scary demeanor lightens as they invite him into their now Fab Five clique.


The Fab Five in Shooting Stars. Universal Pictures. All rights reserved. 


As LeBron’s talent grows in power, he learns that humility and friendship are what give him the ability to hold it together when fame threatens to tear him apart. After falling into the party scene and failing the following day on court, he realizes that he needs his friends, and they need him. Dambrot works them hard organizing plays, but their street-style ball playing wins them games and championships. All the while, they learn about life and friendship, teamwork, and fame. When LeBron gets noticed by sports magazines writing about the wonder boy high schooler whose aim is the NBA, the others support him. 


Dermot Mulroney as Keith Dambrot in Shooting Stars. Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.


The film deals with racism realistically. There’s contention from white players toward black players but also inter-racial tensions of black parents loyal to the black neighborhood against black parents who wish to send their kids to the Catholic school for opportunity and advancement. Both sides have a point, but the film lets us sit with these true-to-life unresolved conflicts. 


Marquis “Mookie” Cook as LeBron James in Shooting Stars. Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.

This enjoyable film presents an engaging story based on real life, weaving in the joy of basketball with the depth of character of the young men whose friendship help lead one player to NBA stardom. Friends keep us real. Friends ground us in what’s truly important in life. This film shows how the Fab Five became the family LeBron needed to propel him on the trajectory that wins championships, but more importantly that gives life and hope in the world of fame.


The friends today. 


The film is rated PG-13 for some suggestive talk, teenage drinking, and strong language throughout.


Streaming on Peacock. 

Photo Credit: Oluwaseye Olusa/Universal Pictures







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