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Critical Review Of The American Documentary ‘Hoops Dreams’

‘Hoops Dreams’ is an American documentary film released in 1994 and was directed by Steve James. The documentary is based on the game of basketball and attributed as one of the best documentaries on sports. ‘Hoops Dreams’ closely follows the life of two American teenagers who are driven by the dream of becoming professional basketball players. The documentary paints a poignant picture of American life in the suburbs and communicates the power of following a dream. The paper carries out a critical review of the documentary and evaluates its plot and script. Later parts of the paper discuss the cinematography of the documentary and its reception by the audience.


The documentary ‘Hoops Dreams’ utilizes emotional appeal to encapsulate audience in its narrative. The documentary follows lives of two African American teenagers named William Gates and Arthur Agee. The story line follows lives of the two teenagers who are recruited into a basketball program by a scout. The basketball program has a rich history and one of its alumni – Isiah Thomas – even made into an NBA team. Audience is won over by the story of these two teenage recruits who belong in a low-income African-American neighborhood. The odds against them are worsened further by the fact that they are among very few African-American children in a school which predominantly contained white children.

The documentary rightly deserves critical acclaim for highlighting issues of struggle against racial discrimination and income disparity in American society. The cinematographic techniques adopted in the film are incredibly powerful. The audience gets completely engaged during portrayal of the struggle of the two central characters. Gates and Agee not only had to endure a 90-minute commute to their school each day, but they also underwent incredibly difficult workout routines. There is no evidence of manipulation of facts to gain undue sympathy from the audience. This genuine portrayal also played a role in keeping the audience interested during the entire 171 minutes. Due to the reasons mentioned above, the film rightly deserves the accolades it received from audience and critics alike.

Conclusion The critical assessment of the documentary ‘Hoops Dream’ shows that the film wins over the audience due to the subject matter. It is found that the film addresses sensitive issues of racial discrimination and class struggle in American society. It is concluded that the film leaves the audience with a powerful message that persistence and hard work are the keys to achievement.

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