Disney’s latest sports drama film is “Rise”, which tells the real-life story of the Antetokounmpo family, which includes the first trio of brothers to become NBA champions in the history of the league – Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Laker Kostas Antetokounmpo, and their younger brother Alex.
The film begins in Nigeria, with the brother’s parents, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo, emigrate from to head to Greece, where they settle and start to raise their family. But they are constantly struggling to survive and living under the daily threat of deportation, as they try desperately to obtain Greek citizenship.
When the Giannis and Thanasis weren’t playing basketball for a local afterschool club, they would be selling sunglasses and other items to tourists to survive, even sharing a single pair of Nike sneakers to play games. The brothers were late to get into the game, but they quickly picked it up, and we get to see them learning how not just to play the game, but to master it.
We also get to see what happens when the older brothers are spotted by some local talent agent. It sets off a chain of events, resulting in Giannis getting entered into the NBA Draft. This long-shot prospect would change not only his life but his entire family’s life.
“Rise” pulls on your heartstrings as you get to see what life is like for immigrants who try to settle in another country. The pain of leaving loved ones behind, poverty and the racism they suffered.
Over the years, Disney has released lots of sports-themed movies, like “Safety”, “Cool Runnings”, and “Miracle”, however, they’ve rarely been major box office draws, but with lower budgets, Disney+ offers an excellent way for Disney to tell these heartwarming stories.
To be honest, I’m not a sports fan, and I had no idea who any of the Antetokounmpo brothers were until I found out about this film. I’ve zero interest in basketball, and that had no impact on my enjoyment of the film, since the film’s primary focus isn’t on basketball, it’s on the family. I thought having the majority of the film set in Greece, and the NBA portion of the film is kept to just the very end of the film, means it’s much more palatable for a mainstream audience, regardless of any interest in basketball.
“Rise” is a delightful drama that is a feel-good story of a family overcoming the odds and shows how hard work can pay off. This is a lovely film for the whole family, it has a positive message, and I really enjoyed it. It’s an easy-going film and an easy recommendation.
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.