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The Heart of the Game Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… this one is good. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    Making his feature-length debut after forging a career making socially conscious short films, director Ward Serrill never takes his eye off the ball, maintaining a sharp storytelling focus distilled from those seven years worth of footage.

    Read Full Review

  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Scott Brown

    The film is a furious full-court press, its subjects aflame with the kind of passion only youth can furnish.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It captures an authentic feel-good spirit and inspirational message that most Hollywood movies barely approximate.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Sports movies have a purity of form. They always end with the big game, in triumph or heartbreak. So does The Heart of the Game, although the lawsuit still hangs over the team after the final free throw.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune

    If you or any kid over the age of 10 has even a half-interest in the definition of the word "teamwork," as well as the words "real-life suspense," this is the movie.

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  • See all The Heart of the Game reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Excellent high school sports documentary.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary includes images of high school basketballers devoted to becoming a nationally ranked team: The girls are occasionally roughed up on the court and rebellious against their hard-driving coach. One girl reveals she was sexually abused by an individual coach (and she comes back to help her original coach work with younger players); another becomes pregnant and misses a season, returning as a single mother. Some cursing (including an f-word and s-word).

  • Families can talk about the ways that Darnellia matures over the course of the film, transitioning form rebellious adolescent to responsible teammate. How does her coach describe these changes, as he encourages her to believe in herself? How does Darnellia come to depend on her family and teammates in order to become a great player?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Discussion of race and racism, players and coach's journey to the finals and evolving commitment to each other are inspiring.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: On-court action includes bumping and hard fouling; language includes references to aggressive play ("killing" opponents).

  • sex false0

    Sex: One girl admits late in the film that a coach she hired individually sexually abused her (her recollection is tearful); another player becomes pregnant as a teenager and misses a season.

  • language false3

    Language: One girl uses the f-word following a disappointing loss; s-word; couple of "hell"s.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue