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Love and Basketball

Rated [PG-13], 120 minutes
Starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan
Written and Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

IN SHORT: a color blind GenX dateflick

Before we begin, we'd like to mention that star Omar Epps sat down for a one on one StarTalk with out Paul Fischer, which can be read by clicking here. Onwards...

Tracking the life stories of two childhood neighbors as they age and make their way towards lives as professional basketball players, Love and Basketball is the movie producer Spike Lee wanted last year's The Best Man to be, a flick staffed by an African-American cast whose appeal is color blind. That may be because what little rap slang is in the flick is easily translatable by middle aged white guys like Cranky or because stories of true love, in which the couple to be don't necessarily like each other for most of the story, are old hat and don't require much to figure out way in advance. That leaves the question of whether there is chemistry between the stars (there is) and whether the performances are interesting enough to sustain you (they are).

The bigger problem with writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood's creation is that she slaps soundtrack songs over the action (literally) every five minutes or so. This may be a wonderful marketing tool for the soundtrack CD, which often outsells box office tickets, but it's irritating as hell to a grownup audience. Which would be me. At least the [PG-13] rating means the soundtrack free of obscenity laden rap songs. Cranky can't vouch for the CD.

Starting in 1981 at age eleven, we meet Quincy McCall (played as a youngster by Glenndon Chatman), son of NBA star Zeke (Dennis Haysbert) who is determined to follow in his dad's footsteps, with his dad's number on his back. The just moved in tomboy neighbor Monica Wright (ditto Kyla Pratt) who is determined to be the first femme player in the NBA and is already kicking out enough punk attitude fit to put any competitor in his place. Their first game results in physical damage to Monica. Their first relationship lasts about fifteen seconds. This "first quarter" of the movie lays out all that follows. Jump forward to senior year in high school, where Quincy (Omar Epps) is the hoop star and hottest high school prospect in the country. Monica (Sanaa Latham), still reeking of attitude and lacking in team spirit, can't get a recruiter to look her way. The parental units on both sides (Haysbert and Debbi Morgan; Alfre Woodard and Harry J. Lennix) both want their kidlets to get an education; the McCalls knowing that a pro career is a temporary fix at best, the Wrights knowing that there's no foreseeable place for a woman in the NBA.

The story continues into college, where both play for USC, and beyond. With one plot twist to keep it all interesting, you can figure out Prince-Bythewood's story with a careful analysis of the above paragraph. If you don't want to expend the brain power, everything to come should ring clear as a bell about halfway through the flick.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Love and Basketball, he would have paid...


Though there's little here to interest us old farts. A average dateflick for the teens and GenXers is what Love and Basketball is.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.