Swimming can be a beautiful activity, especially when it is filmed from below. There is something marvelous, almost supernatural, about the way the bodies seem to hang in the air, or the way the water churns around and above them, as though we were down on the ground and watching someone make waves across the sky. It doesn't necessarily make for the most exciting sport, though, and that is one of a few problems that affect Pride, a by-the-numbers inspirational sports movie.
Pride is not as good as, say, Glory Road, which was slicker, but it is probably better than, say, Gridiron Gang, which got so corny in places that it became downright laughable. At any rate, like those films—and many others that one could name—Pride tells the familiar but true story of a coach who bucked the odds, overcame the obstacles, and motivated some disenfranchised young men from the inner city to prove that social class and skin color didn't have to hold them back forever.
The coach in this case is Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard), who assumes the role almost by accident. In the 1960s, he was one of many black athletes who were denied a chance to compete against their white counterparts, and his frustration over the injustice of it all led to a brawl with some racist North Carolina cops which, in turn, led to his arrest. Now it is 1974, and he just wants a job. He finds one with the Philadelphia Department of Recreation; they are planning to tear down a recreation center in the next few months because nobody uses it, so they send Jim to start packing it up, much to the annoyance of its custodian, Elston (Bernie Mac).
But the place is pretty isolated, and even Elston doesn't seem to care all that much what happens there. So Jim begins to treat ...1