The words "based on a true story" cover a lot of sins. Don't get me wrong. Don Haskins has a story worth telling. A basketball coach for the underdog Texas Western Miners, Haskins elbowed segregation in 1966 when he ted five black players against the all-white team from the University of Kentucky Wildcats at the NCAA championships. And Josh Lucas plays Haskins with a no-bull vigor that comes in handy when the script saddles him with all-bull platitudes ("It's not about talent, it's about heart"). No one can beat producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Remember the Titans) at making the truth play like Hollywood fantasy. Authenticity is confined to the court action, and the performances, led by Derek Luke as the team's player and Jon Voight — his face a mask of putty — as the Kentucky coach. The rest is a slick package with the wrinkles of real life smoothed clean out of it.
From The Archives Issue 355: October 29, 1981