The story of LeBron James becoming a borderline superhero has long been passed down. The multi-hyphenate mogul burst onto the basketball scene while still in high school. His team was among the best in the nation, and his friends were bonafide stars in Ohio basketball. While James and St. Vincent-St. Mary achieved glory, a documentary crew captured most of their rise. More Than A Game surprised audiences with its pathos and incredible soundtrack. Now, almost fifteen years later, Shooting Stars tells the story of the SVSM team. While the performances are good, this version of the story feels more like an after-school special than the very well-made documentary.

In Ohio, four young kids grow up with basketball dreams. LeBron James (Marquis “Mookie” Cook) already finds himself highly recruited by high school teams. However, his friends are not quite as lucky. Willie McGee (Avery S. Wills Jr.) is highly touted, Sian (Khalil Everage) should make varsity, but Lil Dru (Caleb McLaughlin) seems likely for JV. Rather than sit on a lower team, Dru approaches St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Keith Dambrot (Dermot Mulroney) with an offer. If all four of them make varsity, they’ll go to SVSM. Over their freshmen season, the “Fab Four” dominate, winning the State Championship. As sophomores, they recruit Romeo Travis (Scoot Henderson) and become one of the best teams in the country with Dru’s dad (Wood Harris) as the coach.

Shooting Stars

The performances, specifically from McLaughlin, Henderson, Harris, and Mulroney, stand out. McLaughlin brings humor and confidence to the role and, with point guard precision, enhances the ensemble around him. A basketball phenom in his own right, Henderson surprises by crafting a brooding young adult with a hardened exterior. Harris gets most of the showcase story moments, and Mulroney happily growls his way through the dialogue.

This is not a slight on Wills Jr., Everage, or Cook. They each do the best they can, but their characters are underwritten. Cook might play LeBron, but this is the least interesting version of his story. Even though the real LeBron faced difficult moments during his senior year, the dialogue for him feels wildly underdeveloped. As Cook tries to sell it, the weak screenplay makes it impossible to navigate.

Shooting Stars

The screenplay traffics in cliches and boring story structure. There’s no doubt that the team behind the success had more pressure and battles than we realized. In fact, Shooting Stars paints Lebron as a less-than-perfect high schooler, both arrogant and a bit of a troublemaker. Considering how he’s painted himself in the media in recent years, this is surprising and shows some honest introspection from the star. Most will tune in to understand LeBron, so this is quite the departure from the media-savvy mogul we’ve come to know.

At the same time, Shooting Stars hits formulaic beats as it nears the resolution. The most dramatic scene of the movie comes with LeBron. The narrative does not fully earn that moment. More than anything, it feels necessary to complete the formula. The quality of Shooting Stars quickly spirals as everything becomes predictable and derivative. This ultimately proves to be the most frustrating aspect of the story.

Shooting Stars

With the story of LeBron James often cited as part of the mythmaking around him, this story was far from unknown. Spending time with LeBron’s high school friends proves to be the most intriguing aspect of the story. Still, hitting the inspirational sports film beats in the most formulaic ways leaves us wanting more. One hopes the film about the creation of Klutch Sports will be more exciting in ten years. In the meantime, we recommend More Than a Game, which delivers more emotion than Shooting Stars can ever muster.

Alan’s Rating: 5/10

What do you think of Shooting Stars? Let us know in the comments below! Watch Shooting Stars on Peacock on June 2, 2023.

Please check out other Sunshine State Cineplex reviews here!

Leave a Reply