Based on a true-life story set in 1970s Philadelphia, PRIDE follows determined swimming coach Jim Ellis (Terrence Howard) as he as struggles to gain recognition and respect for his African-American team. Operating out of a recreational center in a rough part of Philly, Ellis's loose-knit group of teens face difficulties dealing with both criminal and racial issues, making it that much harder to keep them focused on swimming. When Ellis gets a chance to take on the swim team of a school that rejected him for a job, he sees a great opportunity for his kids to show their true mettle.
Helmed by first-time feature-film director Sunu Gonera, PRIDE, like 2006's football-themed INVINCIBLE, is steeped in the look of '70s Philadelphia, but that aspect never seems forced, allowing the poignant story to shine through, thanks, in large part, to Howard's thoughtful, no-frills performance. While Bernie Mac is on hand to lend support, the comedian (and his considerable sideburns) never steals the show, and only enhances the movie's uplifting vibe, which is boosted further by an excellent Philly-soul soundtrack that prominently features the O'Jays. Although PRIDE isn't out to reinvent the sports-drama wheel, its attention to factual detail and its amiable, straightforward aesthetic make it an exemplary offering in the genre.