Hurricane Season

Release Date: TBA 2009

Movie of the Day for Sunday, November 2, 2008
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In your face, Katrina.

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In 2006, the city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and its after effects. Tens of thousands of people were forced out of their homes, the economy was crushed, and dead bodies littered the streets and waterways. For citizens of the city, life was as bad as it could possibly be. Hope often takes strange forms in our time of need.

The students at Ehret High School, the Patriots, they are proof positive that hope floats. When high school started back again that year, there were not enough students to form a basketball team. At least there would not have been if the core of the team had been solely comprised of people who had previously attended Ehret. Since many schools were destroyed in the hurricane, Ehret became a hub for otherwise displaced students in the area. A group of ten basketball players formerly from five different schools were cobbled together as a “team”. Their struggles to learn to work together might sound cliché on paper, but they were quite real at the time.

The Ehret High School players are the inspiration for Patriots, a theatrical adaptation of their story. Given the odd nature of how the players were thrown together, it is perhaps unsurprising that they started their season 15-10 and were on the verge of missing the playoffs. Once the players stopped bickering (Coach Al Collins’ evaluation of their problem) and learned to trust one another, the magic happened. His team went on to win 12 of their final 13 games, ending their run with a state championship title over Woodlawn of Baton Rouge. In the Internet era, word of their feat quickly spread as it became a symbolic example of the city of New Orleans’ attempt to rebuild and move on after a historically unprecedented catastrophe. ESPN went so far as to award the team a special ESPY in 2006. The team was lauded for “overcoming great obstacles to achieve sports excellence”.

Given the immediate popularity and uplifting nature of the story, a decision to make a movie about it happened almost instantly. Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker signed to portray Collins with Tim Story directing. Story had tremendous success with Barbershop, then made money while absorbing a critical beating with the Fantastic Four films. He also directed Taxi. Yes, there is cause for concern here, but we should keep in mind that Barbershop was really, really good. Maybe he can get back his mojo with this release. The rest of the cast includes the famously fired-from-Grey’s-Anatomy Isaiah Washington, no longer “Lil’” Bow Wow, still “Lil’” Wayne, and Taraji P. Henson. Robert Eisele, the man responsible for last year’s The Great Debaters, wrote the screenplay and Variety reports that The Weinstein Company intends to follow a similar marketing strategy to how that film was advertised. Gregory Allen Howard, who wrote the thematically similar Remember the Titans, also had a hand with the writing. The Great Debaters earned $30.2 million while Remember the Titans accrued $115.6 million, so there is a pretty wide range here in terms of what this title may do financially. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Hurricane Season
Main Cast Forest Whitaker, Isaiah Washington
Supporting Cast Taraji P. Henson, Robbie Jones, Jackie Long, Eric Hill, Bow Wow, Lil' Wayne, Irma Hall, Jaren Einsohn, J.S. Smoove, Chyna McClain, Shad Moss
Director Tim Story
Screenwriter Robert Eisele
Distributor The Weinstein Company
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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