Love and Basketball


Off-court: Quincy and Monica (Epps and Lathan) discover a mutual attraction under all that competitiveness...
dir-scr Gina Prince-Blythewood
with Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert, Debbi Morgan, Harry J Lennix, Kyla Pratt, Glenndon Chatman, Christine Dunford, Erika Ringor, Regina Hall, Colleen Matsuhara
NewLine 00/US 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
First we had a chick flick about baseball (For Love of the Game) and now we have Love and Basketball, which for all its on-court action is basically a gimmicky love story with a sports setting thrown for the guys. It's the inverse of inserting romance into an action movie for no apparent reason (Armageddon, anyone?). That said, this film does at least feature superior acting and a solid script.

Monica (Lathan) has an all-consuming love for basketball ... and a serious talent for playing the game, much to the chagrin of her happy homemaker mother (Woodard). The cocky boy next door, Quincy (Epps), wants to follow his dad (Haysbert) as a pro player. He doesn't quite know what to make of Monica, but even as they battle for court supremacy we know they're deeply in love, really. The film follows these two characters from age 11 (played by Pratt and Chatham) through high school to college and beyond, conveniently divided into four quarters, as they develop their game both on the court and off it.

The spanning-the-years storyline works surprisingly well, yet as a director, Prince-Blythewood doesn't always do her screenplay justice. She never includes any period detail to help us mark the passage of time, and there are about three musical montage sequences too many, which makes the film feel long and overly schmaltzy. But the script is full of nice touches, approaching its characters in a refreshingly realistic way, warts and all. In this sense, Lathan and Epps are terrific, creating robust characters that hold our interest as the film flags.

[12--themes, language] 22.Jun.00
US release 21.Apr.00; UK release 7.Jul.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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