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Filmed over four years, from the dilapidated cement courts of Senegal to upscale American prep schools, Elevate documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African Muslim teenagers. Recruited for both their physical and academic skills, they accept basketball scholarships to schools in the United States--and face the daunting challenges of alienation, a foreign language, American-style basketball and an unfamiliar American culture rife with African stereotypes. But with courage, humor, and remarkable resilience, they relentlessly pursue their dreams--to obtain… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Sports movies have a tendency to pull the old heart strings, but this is an especially emotional journey."
‑ Stephanie Merry, Washington Post
"We see these young men struggle with assimilation - mastering English and learning to drive, meeting girls, facing a headmaster hell-bent on sending one to Princeton - and feel their joy on trips home. And we exult when they graduate."
‑ Andy Webster, New York Times
"In the way it shows how basketball can both use and abuse needy youths while still giving them the opportunity to rise up to levels they never imagined, it is a more than worthy successor to Hoop Dreams."
‑ Will Leitch, Deadspin
"The director is uninterested in truly plumbing the more painful, confusing emotions and thorny educational and social issues that confront her subjects."
‑ Nick Schager, Slant Magazine
"It's all presented with equal parts humor and sensitivity..."
‑ Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
"Never adequately addresses the problems of what's essentially a neocolonialist system designed to shape impoverished Africans into first-world profit-makers."
‑ Andrew Schenker, Time Out New York
"Surface-scratching and at times incurious, but a nonetheless engaging documentary look at Senegalese teenagers attempting to better their lives through eduction and hoops in America."
‑ Brent Simon, Shockya.com
"The best film about basketball I have ever seen. It is the happy ending version of "Hoop Dreams" in many ways."
‑ Louis Proyect, rec.arts.movies.reviews
"One of the many beautiful things about this affecting, informative doc is the opportunity it gives to see the American college sports world through different eyes."
‑ Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
"An upbeat but never sugarcoated look at how cultural diversity can provide as many roadblocks as it does opportunities."
‑ Aaron Hillis, Village Voice
"Less comprehensive than the material calls for, which makes the cumulative effect little more than "Hoop Dreams"-lite."
‑ Eric Kohn, indieWIRE
More reviews for Elevate on Rotten Tomatoes