spoiler free and completely subjective review of
Of The Giants
me start off by making what could easily be considered a nullifying admission:
Im not a big fan of basketball. Those who know me might suggest this bias
has something to do with a certain high school jock who once lured away my first
sweetheart. I can assure you that no such thing ever happened, and that Ill
never understand what she saw in him!
light of this frank admission, some may be inclined to dismiss my admittedly subjective
opinion of a film whose plot is centered on the sport of basketball. I can only
respond to ye of little trust, that I only made the admission to point out that
someone need not be a basketball fan to enjoy the film. Someone like me, for example.
Of The Giants is a full court press of drama, action and ample doses
of high suspense. It is also a whole lot of fun. There is, of course, that obligatory
moment when the fate of the game hangs on one last basket. But even that genre
requirement is handled with a distinction that will keep the most jaded theatergoer
guessing until the last second.
element that makes this film stand out is a subtext which echoes throughout writer/director
Rusty Gormans well-tailored script. It is a universal theme, but one I find
to be very relevant to the issues facing young people in troubled times. It has
to do with finding ones own identity; realizing that those we look up to
have their own weaknesses and might not be able to balance atop the pedestals
on which we place them.
I said no spoilers.
central character, Gar, writer for the school newspaper, is played
by youthful veteran of TV and big screen, Haley
Joel Osment. Though this film is a team effort, Osment is certainly the most
recognizable name in the cast. Having been one of the youngest nominees for the
Oscar might have something to do with that. In films from The The Sixth Sense
to Artificial Intelligence, Mr. Osment has proven his ability to captivate
and move an audience. He hasnt lost his touch. But like his last film, Secondhand
Lions , Home Of The Giants is really an ensemble work. Its built
on relationships. Not only that of the two main characters, but the broader and
more fundamental ones of family and community.
best friend, Matt, is intensely played by Ryan
Merriman, who, like Osment, also started in TV at a young age. Merriman never
drops the ball in this film. He not only slam dunks the role of a bad-boy basketball
hero, but successfully instills a vulnerability beneath the cockiness; an instability
that will serve as the first offense to his and Gars friendship. Matts
descent into a world of crime is initiated by the return of his troubled and dominating
brother Keith, played by Kenneth
Mitchell. As the plot develops, Gar finds himself following Matt who is following
his brother, into unknown and dangerous territory.
Gar meets Bridgette, a new student in his journalism class, played by Danielle
Panabaker. Bridgette is intelligent and skeptical and, being from the city,
doesnt understand the important role basketball plays in the community.
She challenges what she sees as Gars hero worship, and the super-star status
the team enjoys. At her provoking, Gar comes to question his friendship with Matt.
But by that time it is too late. The two young friends are already caught up in
a defensive game against a dangerous adversary, a drug dealer played by Brent
Briscoe. The ensuing action makes for a truly enjoyable theater event.
a recent screening of the film I had an opportunity to chat with Mr. Osment. He
shared with me that one of his characters central challenges was learning
to make more of his decisions for himself. I would suggest theatergoers observe
that wisdom in regard to Home of the Giants .
my completely subjective opinion, its a wonderfully layered script brought
to life by an excellent ensemble. But then again, I am not really a fan of basketball.
Youll have to see it and decide for yourselves.