Home of the Giants

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Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO -- March Madness shows its sinister side in "Home of the Giants," a saga about Indiana state-championship basketball. The main rivalry is not on the court, but off the hardwood, as two brothers go one-on-one in a good-vs.-evil showdown. This appealing, heady independent film won audience fans here at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Starring Ryan Merriman as Matt, a high-school basketball star, and Haley Joel Osment as Gar, his loyal, brainy sidekick, "Home of the Giants" is funny and gritty. With sly digs at high-school culture, filmmaker Rusty Gorman spins a sharp morality story centered on the tribal insanity of Indiana high-school basketball.

In this sharp depiction of middle-American life, Matt is reveling in his "glory days": He's the high-school star who realizes that he'll never play at the next level. He's got a one-man entourage in his brainy friend Gar (Osment), who, both realize, will someday far outpace Matt in the game of life.

Filmmaker Rusty Gorman puts a shrewd trajectory on this jock yarn, layering the drive to the championship with some unsettling human issues. At its core, "Home of the Giants" is played out on a much larger court, and Matt's greatest challenge is to overcome the dark legacy of his older brother.

"Giants" is smartly shot with just the right character rotation between its two leads: As the sharp-shooting star, Merriman struts with high-school star cockiness and self-absorption, while Osment is winning as the sidekick who must assume leadership.

Other players deliver solid turns: Kenneth Mitchell is riveting as Matt's bad-apple brother. Danielle Panabaker's new-girl-in-school freshness adds a perky dimension to the storyline. Writer-director Gorman shows a talent for credible character creations and a deft control of the story, no mean feat since "Giants" blends multiple narrative styles of drama, romance and comedy.

Technical contributions are A-game, most prominently editor Dan Schalk's up-tempo pacing and cinematographer Rodney Taylor's on-target framings of the heartland.

HOME OF THE GIANTS
SymPics International and Blue Rider Pictures present
a Rusty Gorman Film
Credits:
Director/writer: Rusty Gorman
Producers: William R. Greenblatt, L. Charles Grimes, Dan Schalk, Eugene Osment
Director of photography: Rodney Taylor
Production designer: Jennifer O'Kelly
Music: Michael Suby
Costume designer: Lisa Norcia
Editor: Dan Schalk
Cast:
Gar: Haley Joel Osment
Matt: Ryan Merriman
Keith: Kenneth Mitchell
Bridgette: Danielle Panabaker
Prock: Brent Briscoe
Mrs. Gartland: Kathleen LaGue
Running time -- 101 minutes
No MPAA rating
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