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Movie Review: Rise Celebrates the Determination of the Antetokounmp Family

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As a huge basketball fan I had heard of the name “Antetokounmpo” but never knew the full story of how the Antetokounmpo brothers ended up in the NBA. RISE is the new Disney+ movie about the Antetokounmpo family, releasing on June 24 2022. Read on for a spoiler-free movie review of RISE, the story of the Antetokounmpo brothers.

movie review Rise

ABOUT the Movie RISE

 RISE is based on the triumphant real-life story about the remarkable family that gave the world 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.

RISE Movie REVIEW

RISE begins in the early 2000s when a Nigerian couple flees from the Turkish police due to their lack of citizenship.  Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) are desperate to settle in a safe community and find themselves in Greece where Vera gives birth to her son Giannis.  The family survives by selling sunglasses and hats to tourists on the street but it’s not nearly enough to pay rent on a regular basis, so the children help with selling.

movie review Rise
Photo by Patrick Redmond. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

An opportunity for Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada) comes about when a youth basketball team allows them to join. The Antetokounmpo brothers blossom and their athletic skills grow quickly, especially for boys who were raised on soccer and not basketball.

RISE shows the good times and the absolute struggle of being an illegal immigrant in Greece.  The family simply wants an opportunity to work and provide for their family but also to avoid deportation.  The movie shows their journey to try to obtain citizenship which is essentially impossible in a country where the majority of the law is written so that immigrants can NEVER obtain legal status.  

RISE misses an opportunity to explain what motivated two people to flee their homes and have to make some of the most difficult decisions in order to raise their children in a foreign country.  In fact, this issue is almost skipped over, with a short scene where mom Vera Antetokounmpo (Yetide Bamako) sobs while zooming with her relatives in Nigeria.  It’s later revealed that Charles and Vera left their eldest son in Nigeria but it’s never explored fully the WHY the need to leave.  

Overall RISE is a compelling story of an immigrant family whose determination to stay together and succeed unlocks a world of opportunity they barely even dreamed of.  

Rise debuts on Disney Plus on June 24, 2022!

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