Shooting Stars 2023 Movie Review
The Shooting Stars to which the title refers is LeBron James’ (Marquis “Mookie” Cook) AAU youth basketball team, where he and some teammates begin to develop undeniable chemistry both on and off the court. Years later, the group begins to splinter based on varying talent levels, but the shortest of the crew, Dru (Caleb McLaughlin), spearheads a plan trying to keep himself from getting left behind. The Fab Five takes their talents to Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, a predominantly white Catholic high school.
In their freshman year, the group makes a big splash as freshmen because former college coach Keith Dambrot (Dermot Mulroney) puts his trust in the group, although he quickly abandons them — thrusting Dru’s dad (Wood Harris) into a role overseeing the team’s skyrocketing trajectory. By junior year, LeBron becomes a national sensation thanks to a Sports Illustrated cover. The tight bonds of the Fab Four begin to buckle under the stress. We know what happens to LeBron — but what about the other four?
Whether musicians or athletes, the story of a group that comes undone is sadly all too familiar. At nearly two hours, Shooting Stars spends a bit too long on a tale whose broad contours we recognize. It’s smart enough to center the friends and the group bond they share rather than immediately relegating them to sidekick status around the superstar, though the film does get more LeBron-centric as it goes on, to its ultimate detriment. This is a competent if not entirely confident fictional telling of the real-life story. It’s a bit disappointing to watch it whiff on moments like the Fab Four getting yelled at by a passing car in their freshman year for selling out, hinting at some conflicting feelings they raised within the Black community. But this thematic thread gets treated like many others outside the immediate purview of the players — relegated to being an afterthought.