Eppler: Affleck MVP of basketball movie 'The Way Back' - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: Affleck MVP of basketball movie 'The Way Back'

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Sometimes, an artist connects so deeply with the material that we can feel it, and it elevates the overall experience. I think that's the case for Ben Affleck in "The Way Back." He plays an alcoholic, and Affleck has been open about his recovery and relapses with alcohol in his off-screen life. It lends gravity to his performance, which is one of the best of his career.

He pours his all into a movie that doesn't always deserve it. Both as a recovery movie and a sports picture, "The Way Back" often relies too heavily on clichés and the expected.
Affleck stars as a former high school basketball star who threw it all away for reasons, and is called back to coach at his almamater - a Catholic school. 
Can this burnout teach these kids to play as a team and heal his own wounds in the process? Yeah, that's how these movies work. But I like that "The Way Back" is rough around the edges with its R-rating, yet still able to touch on faith and redemption in a real way. The movie is occasionally melodramatic, though. In most Hollywood movies, alcoholics have to have some deep sob story for why they drink, and there's a doozey here that keeps getting worse. 
The basketball stuff clicks nicely, but too often takes a back seat to some of the movie's weaker elements.

"The Way Back" is worth seeing for the sports starved and especially for Affleck's outstanding work. 


* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful - The worst, an insult to movies

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