Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle "Gabby" Douglas has received numerous accolades, but the Lifetime biopic "The Gabby Douglas Story" shouldn't expect to win any major prizes, according to reviews published before the movie premiered on Feb. 1, 2014.
Imani Hakim plays the teenage Douglas, while Sydney Mikayla plays the pre-adolescent Douglas. A prodigy from a very young age, Douglas originally made her mark on the world of competitive gymnastics at age 8. She won numerous state championship titles in her age group throughout her early competitive career.
While her star was fast rising in the arena, Gabby and her family faced economic challenges at home and she made the difficult decision to leave her mother, Natalie Hawkins (played by Regina King), three siblings and grandmother in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and move to Des Moines, Iowa, to train with renowned coach Liang Chow (played by Brian Tee) to pursue her dream of Olympic glory.
Buoyed by her early success, dedication and unyielding love from her family, Douglas made it onto the 2012 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, with whom she faced intense competition in the London Games. Her sacrifice and perseverance were triumphantly rewarded with Team Competition and Individual All-round gold medals, placing Douglas and her teammates — known as “The Fierce Five” — among the world’s all-time greats in gymnastics.
Here are excerpts of some of the reviews of "The Gabby Douglas Story":
"Olympics-dominating gymnast Gabby Douglas has her story Lifetime-ized in 'The Gabby Douglas Story,' and it’s 90 minutes of treacly declarations and follow-your-dreams platitudes that waste the talents of both Regina King and S. Epatha Merkerson. Prominent female gymnasts immediately default to America’s sweethearts in the public consciousness, so there’s no reason to expect some sort of hard-hitting biopic about Douglas. Still, the biggest disappointment of 'The Gabby Douglas Story' is not what it is, but what it could have been." (Grade: D+)
"Hoping to capitalize on Sochi Winter Olympics hype, Lifetime's 'The Gabby Douglas Story' takes us back two years to the Summer Olympics in London. There, a 17-year-old Gabby Douglas won the gold medal for the individual all-around, and then another gold with her 'Fierce Five' American teammates for the team all-around. The movie chronicles the young athlete's meteoric rise thanks to her natural talent, good coaching and the sacrifices of her family. It's a heartwarming story, but the movie's rote, linear take on what is such an incredible accomplishment doesn't quite stick its landing."
"There is one priceless moment in 'The Gabby Douglas Story' near the end, where the movie flashes back through the Olympic champion’s life — at that point, all 16 years of it. Otherwise, Lifetime’s contribution to Black History Month is really more of an ode to Let’s Piggyback on the Olympics Month, with Regina King providing the only heft in the most interesting part of Douglas’ biography as her caring and sacrificing mother. Douglas briefly appears in the movie and helped produce it, but despite its feel-good trappings, this project never gets airborne enough to even try to stick the landing."