The True Story of Antetokounmpo Review: An Inspirational Film

Since its founding in the unforgettable 30s of animation, the company formed by Walt Disney has focused its attention on children and their complicated years of training, orchestrating short and feature films that always sought to surprise and entertain the most small, however seasoning them with fundamental educational messages which have differentiated it from other production studies. Aladdin hid a critique of materialism, Mulan was imbued with a decisive feminism, The hunchback of Notre Dame it elevated the person beyond his appearance, to the very recent Red and his point of view on self-acceptance, as we told you in the review of Red: Disney continued to teach the world and the qualities of man in an almost sibylline way, following the course of time and pointing out the crucial issues of the time.

The history of the Antetokounmpo family it does not come from the mind of any screenwriter, but is rightly among the great stories of revenge and unity that have marked the success of the House of Mickey Mouse, who could not miss the opportunity to tell it with the movie. He laughed (which will premiere at Disney + titles in June 2022). The film directed by Akin Omatoso describes the odyssey of a lineage of NBA champions sweetening it and making it accessible to a young audience, following the journey marked by hope that leads from Lagos to the New York stars.

A family that bends, but never breaks

Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo left Nigeria in 1991, separating from their homeland and their eldest son Francis, a newborn unable to resist the desperate migration that awaits his parents, who entrust him to the care of their grandparents with the promise to take him with them as soon as the law would have allowed.

The bold move to Turkey causes the loss of identity documents of the spouses, which they arrive in Greece as illegal immigrants and give birth to four more children, who help their parents by selling tourists visiting Athens on the street. The Antetokounmpo family is for all intents and purposes stateless, having lost their Nigerian documents and cannot apply for Greek citizenship as irregular immigrants. she is forced to live in difficulty hiding from the local authority which threatens his extradition. The tormenting context around them would have broken anyone’s spirit, but it has no power over Charles and Veronica, who raise their children by supporting them with all their might, guarantee them a school education, and spoil them with glorious stories of the past as a footballer.of the father.

During one of the different family trainings in the fields of Athens, Giannis and Thanasis are attracted by the heavy wedge ball with which the boys play a few meters from them: the impact with basketball is not the best, especially for the clumsy and gigantic Giannis. , But the two brothers are enchanted by the magic of the basket and decide to attend free sports courses without informing their parents. The talent of the two Antetokounmpo soon reveals itself, with Giannis catching the attention of several Greek observers, but the condition of the illegal immigrants haunts them, forcing them to remain hidden, away from the spotlight and the law on migrants.

No one can block Antetokounmpo

The rest of the story can be read in the annals of the NBA championships: last year Giannis and Thanasis won the gold ring with the Milwaukee Bucks jersey, achieving the greatness that their little brother had already raised. Kostas, champion with the Lakers in 2020. Antetokounmpo is the only family that can boast of three NBA championsa lineage of giants who were able to take flight thanks to the immense sacrifices of their parents, who had the courage to expose themselves to authority to ensure a bright future for their children.

Disney tells this story that takes the form of an odyssey through a tender but passionate film, dedicated to the youngest and their dreams of revenge. Wanting to address an audience in their formative years forces a clear sweetening of this journey, a dilution with roses and sugars of the convulsive life of two illegal immigrants and their children, but the film manages to maintain a sense of respectability thanks to the incredible real story it tells, clean of excessively mellow passages that they will make the viewer mature. The unity of the family is at the heart of the narrative, as the screenwriter wanted to highlight during our encounter with the cast of Rise, and it is not uncommon. the sporting factor is left out, despite the evidence that basketball will lift the Antetokounmpo out of poverty. Some action cuts on the floor alternate a story focused on the feeling of belonging, through a united clan thanks to the effort of Charles and Veronica, looking in the family dynamics that message of hope that Disney wants to convey with this film.

The risk of novices

Knowing from the outset how Antetokounmpo’s journey will end lowers tension and makes some narrative contexts cloying – just think of the famous NBA Draft of 2013 that changed the fate of the family – but despite the fact that a way could be found to empty them of diegetic importance by making them accessories (a modality that for the screenwriter it has already come in handy to turn off the sports factor), this is a flaw to always keep in mind when tackling a film that tells a true story.

In the same way, the construction of some scenes of family unity floats between the sentimental and the pathetic, evident both for the visual presentation and for the dialogues, but the film manages to be appealing when not striving for excessive artificiality. Omatoso’s direction is silent to leave all the importance to the story told, being noticed only by some ideas in overview of Greece and in the decision to shoot almost exclusively daytime scenes, while the cast highlights the sincere interpretation of Dayo Okeniyi in the role of Charles Antetokounmpo. Entrusting the roles of Giannis and Thanasis to two boys makes, as expected, the dialogue less fluid and credible, but this embarrassing aspect of the Agada brothers it is decisive in restoring the hesitation which distinguished the young Antetokounmpo, they suddenly fell into a strange context but determined to have fun and make the most of the situation. Uche and Ral Agada are uncomfortable and shy in front of the camera just like Giannis on the basketball court, before assimilating the hopes of his family and thus becoming a ruler of the sport.

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