Filmed over a five-year period, Hoop Dreams follows two inner-city boys as they navigate the complex, competitive world of scholastic athletics and strive to overcome the intense pressures of family life and the realities of the Chicago streets.
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The scope of this documentary is stunning and you'd be hard pressed to find another American film that feels so remarkably true to life for so many people in this country. The basketball element is merely a vehicle for a much larger discussion taking place about class, education, and the evolution of dreams.
A comprehensive look into the hopes and failures of the American dream from among those on the lowest rung of the ladder. Problems of race, poverty, education, violence, capitalism, and welfare pop in and out never explicitly discussed, but existing in the background provoking questions. For most involved it seems that basketball, whether directly or indirectly, is the only hope of escape from poverty.
A touching, exhaustive, sensitive portrayal of two teens from freshman to senior year of high school. The film uses the power of lingering shots to make social criticisms, while still investing sincerely in its subjects (and not using them to make a point). A revelatory documentary.
(4.5) Turns out to be much more than a simple portait of kids with dreams of basketball, actually reaching far outside this frame to show a complex and harsh reality with echoes that are more or less present in all our lives. Easily the best sports movie I've ever seen and the one that most pregnantly has much more to say from the rare few that even possess this quality.
A cultural touchstone in '94 that doesn't seem to have aged a day in its portrayal of the modern American dream and the disappointments and set backs in trying to achieve it. One realizes that despite any skill or talent the system is there to take advantage of these youths, exploit them and move on to the next batch when/if they flame out. Heartbreaking and moving at times but always poignant and thought provoking.
Impressive in scope and message, Hoop Dreams is fascinating and beautifully layered with important social issues. One of the best documentaries, if not the best, I've ever seen. I wish I had seen this one while I was still playing basketball back in my teenage years in France. Would've been my anthem.