Spirit Of The Game
Aaron Jakubenko, Kevin Sorbo, Grant Piro
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…hampered by banal scripting and characterisation.
Delyle Condie (Aaron Jakubenko) is a promising young basketball player who bypassed a solid career in college basketball in order to travel to Australia to be a “door knocking” Mormon missionary. In Melbourne, he discovers that there isn’t a warm reception waiting for Mormon missionaries from the public at large. He also learns that there was a disbanded program sponsored by The Mormon Church where missionaries had competed in Australian basketball competitions. When Delyle happens to door-knock the beleaguered Australian basketball team’s coach, Ken Watson (Grant Piro), he’s asked to assist in training the Australian players for the upcoming 1956 Olympics, and in the process forms a team of Mormon basketballers that tour the country playing exhibition matches, meeting with much popular success.
Once the strangely saccharine opening (featuring Hercules’ Kevin Sorbo as Delyle’s father) and a flurry of storytelling clichés give way to sober Mormonism and white bread wholesome period fantasy, there’s a dawning realisation that this cloying earnestness and faux naiveté is not going to be leavened by humour or satirical edge. Despite some unintended homoeroticism, this appears to be aimed squarely at a Mormon audience, belonging on the “faith based” shelf alongside God’s Not Dead or Left Behind. It’s no doubt funded by Mormon backers and intended as an “outreach tool” for the LDS church, but it’s hampered by banal scripting and characterisation.
Somewhere in this story is a film that could’ve been warm-hearted, off-beat, distinctly Australian, and inherently humorous. That’s all jettisoned in favour of a very white, very Mormon, and very dull story perspective. Delyle speaks of how frustrated he is in his attempts to proselytise his beliefs to the masses, wanting to connect on a human level with “real” people, who just shut off to the saccharine dirge of religion. Ironically, that is precisely the audience experience during this film: we’re alienated by religiosity shoehorned into the gaps where humanity and emotion should be.
You can request and organise a screening of Spirit Of The Game now through FanForce.