Streaming now on Disney+ is “Rise,” a biographical film on the extraordinary journey of the Antetokounmpo (pronounced: AH-ded-KOOM-poh) family. Vera (Yetide Badaki) and Charles (Dayo Okeniyi) embark on atremendous journey of migration, adversity and unity that produced three NBA champions.
In 1990, Vera and Charles leave behind their home and their first son in Nigeria to seek work in Greece, but after their passports are confiscated, they find themselves exiled from their first home and excluded from their new one. Nevertheless, they raise four more sons, including Thanasis and Giannis who begin playing basketball as teenagers. Through tremendous adversity and near constant setbacks, the family found great success in unity and faith. In keeping with the emphasis of the film on family, Thanasis and Giannis are played by brothers Ral and Uche Agade.
“Rise” is a typical sports movie in some ways: a rags to riches story of overcoming barriers through perseverance and hard work. But it is also very unique, and modern. The main plot of the film takes place from 2007 to 2013 and the greatest barriers that the family face are highly modern and relevant: xenophobia, racism and immigration. While still likely quite tamed for its platform, “Rise” shows a few characteristic examples of the anti-immigrant sentiments the family experienced during Greece’s financial crisis, from the impossibility of getting a work visa to the heckling of protestors to racist trash talk of opponents.
“Rise” is just as much a story about the family as the athletes. While a little on the long side for a sports movie, it’s still a consistently entertaining movie, with plenty of novelty to break up some of the more expected plot points of the genre. Overall, it’s definitely worth a watch.
“Rise” is streaming now on Disney+.