Ray Allen & Spike Lee discussing ‘He Got Game’ sequel – This is why it would be a huge mistake
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“Sequels to most movies are always fluff and not as good as the first. But it’s something we’ve been talking about for the last couple months. If we get a really good story line and are able to bring everybody back, then it would be something worth doing.” – Ray Allen on a possible sequel to the 1998 film He Got Game.
I’m sure it would help the NBA sell some Miami Heat jerseys that say Shuttlesworth on the back but unlike the Miami Heat or The Fast & Furious Films, He Got Game is not a bankable franchise. It’s not even a franchise. It wasn’t even a hit in theaters or initially on DVD. It didn’t find an audience until years after it’s release. But that’s not why I’m saying a sequel has disaster written all over it.
Let me first state that I’ve been a Spike Lee fan since the 80’s (pre Do The Right The Thing) and supported him through the Ernest Dickerson era to his super experimental projects — like Crooklyn, which confused audiences because a third of it was anamorphically squeezed image, to Bamboozled, which was shot with mini-DV cameras — and even contributed to his crowd funding film project, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, on Kickstarter last year.
So as a fan from the beginning, I can tell you that he’s in a major slump. After his biggest box office hit ever, Inside Man, he put out the box office bomb Miracle at St. Anna, the self-funded, critically-panned and audience-ignored Red Hook Summer and then one of the biggest box office bombs of all-time: a remake of Park Chan Wook’s masterpiece Old Boy; Spike’s unnecessary $30 million retelling of one of the best films of the decade grossed a little over $1 million over a Holiday opening weekend. What’s really sad is Spike Lee raised more money on Kickstarter ($1.4 million) to fund his new Spike Lee Joint than Old Boy could in the movie theaters during those five days. Then again, Spike was giving out film credits, phone calls with him, movie memorabilia and a chance to sit with him at a Knicks game for contributing to the film that “is not a remake of Blacula.”
He knows he needs a hit and he knows studios aren’t in any hurry to greenlight anything with his name on it right now. So the best way to generate buzz is to capitalize off some NBA marketing buzz and mess around with the idea of making a sequel to a film that makes no sense to have a sequel other than to make money.
DENZEL & ROSARIO
One person they haven’t talked to about this was the lead actor of He Got Game, Denzel Washington. What many people don’t know is Denzel was disappointed with the original film. He didn’t dislike it, but he thought a lot of his best work didn’t make it into the final cut. Although Denzel and Spike have a great history together, and are working on a sequel to Inside Man — which does have a character that could exist in a franchise — I don’t see why the Oscar winner would consider this sequel, especially since his character’s story has been told. The real story of He Got Game was the story of a father finding redemption and earning his son’s forgiveness. And via a very cool and surreal ending, that happened. The end. What else needs to be said?
People would probably also want to see Rosario Dawson back because she is now a well known actress, unlike in 1997, when the only people who knew who she was were people who saw Larry Clark’s disturbing Kids. Again, what is left to be said about her character and relationship with Jesus?
THE BEST SCENES
Think about all of the great moments of the film, including the love letter to basketball at the beginning of the film. It featured the beautiful cinematography of Malik Hassan Sayeed and the classic music of Aaron Copeland. Those opening credits wont be topped. And where Copeland’s music mixed between Public Enemy tracks felt fresh and fitting in the original, it would probably feel redundant and forced in a sequel.
There was also a great moment/love letter to Earl “Black Jesus” Monroe in the film. The scene explained how Ray Allen’s character got the name Jesus Shuttlesworth and allowed Spike Lee to pay homage to a player that the Knicks “put shackles on.” It’s these “love letters” that made you as emotional as Allen’s character was when reading a letter from his father at the end. Like the use of contrasting music, these scenes might feel redundant and forced in a sequel.
Speaking of origins, did you know Ray Allen wasn’t the first pick to play the role. Kobe Bryant was reportedly on the top of Lee’s list. He declined an invite to audition for the film so he could focus on basketball. Stephon Marbury — who has a lot in common with the Jesus character — also declined. Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady did audition for the part and both were reportedly less than impressive.
Then there’s the name of the film. Can we take it seriously if it’s called He Got Game too or He Still Got Game? I have a title recommendation: Do the right thing Spike and don’t bamboozle us with a summer movie starring Malcolm X and Old Boy Ray Allen hoping it will be Mo Better than She Hate Me because it probably wont be!
I still think Spike has some great films and documentaries in him, but I don’t see Lee breaking out of his slump with this one, even with a hot shooting Ray Allen.