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Release Date: 06/02/23 [Peacock]
Genre: Biography. Drama. Sport. 

Studio: Universal Pictures

"A look at the young life of basketball star LeBron James. Feature film adaptation of LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger's book 'Shooting Stars'." 


Biopics – especially sports biopics – can be a tasty slice of genre cinema when not overcooked. The LeBron James centered movie Shooting Stars has the recipe for a Thanksgiving feast but settles as a comforting fast-food treat: fatty and overly sweet, but the ingredients are right and satisfying. 


Based on James’ autobiography, co-written by Pulitzer-winning Buzz Bissinger, Shooting Stars relates the b-ball tale of LeBron and his band of brothers - Lil Dru Joyce, Sian Cotton, and Willie McGee - starting with their YMCA league debut but truly highlighting their championship days at St Vincent - St Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. And these kids are already stars. Forget H-O-R-S-E, they are already at a Larry O’Brien Trophy level of talent. 


They are also teens; good teens, but teens nonetheless. Their emotional swagger is held in place by two coaches: Keith Dambrot (Dermot Mulroney, who does not get anywhere near the cinematic attention he deserves), and Wood Harris (who was once on the opposite end in Remember The Titans). 


Adversity happens. Games are won; games are lost; friendship is strained. The thing about sports biopics is that victory is as assured as the Dream Team’s 1992 gold medal. What makes the stories relevant, and ultimately relatable, is the cast of supporting characters and Shooting Stars’ own Fab Four is just as loveable as their namesake from Liverpool. 


The star of the show is Marquis Mookie Cook, who proudly wears the skin of a teenaged LeBron James like an all-star jersey. Cook plays James with an affable grin and charges on the court as if he has dynamite in his Air Jordans. Whereas Cook might be the soul, Caleb McLaughlin (Concrete Cowboy), who plays Dru, is the heart. McLaughlin still possesses that sly charm that makes Stranger Things’ Lucas enjoyable but he makes Lil Dru his own. Lil Dru might be shorter than LeBron (hey, welcome to the club) but his spirit is all-encompassing. McLaughlin performs with angst, anger, and action. Similar to his moves on the court, he seeks to own this movie. McLaughlin acts big in order to keep up with the star that is James and wins big time. 


Director Chris Robinson keeps the movie running. The basketball action is over-the-top exciting as title cards are overlaid in a rat-a-tat fashion. He successfully takes a story that offers no real surprises and crafts an amazingly-fun narrative. Similar to the Serena and Venus Williams biopic King Richard, Shooting Stars makes the magnificent understandable, offers insight into a world of wonder, and keeps you cheering at the end. 

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