Love & Basketball

2000, Movie, PG-13, 124 mins

Review

LOVE & BASKETBALL
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A love story with a healthy dollop of basketball by first-time feature filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood, whose background includes a stint writing for Felicity. Quincey McCall (Omar Epps) and Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) grow up next door to each other from the age of 11, and they're bound together by their mutual love of basketball. Q's parents, particularly his dad (Dennis Haysbert), a fading NBA player, support their son's love of the game but want him to get a solid education. Monica's mother (Alfre Woodard) wishes her daughter could be sweeter and girlier, like her older sister; Monica's father (Harry J. Lennix) is behind his little girl's ambitions all the way. The kids grow into competitive high school players, begin dating, go off to college together, fight, go their separate ways... and always, the game shapes them, nutures them, divides them and ultimately brings them back together. Prince-Bythewood's structural conceit — "a love story in four quarters" — is both precious and schematic, but the movie's performances, especially Lathan's, are strong enough to balance out the sometimes-clichéd script. Prince-Bythewood should thank her lucky stars she has an actress of Woodard's caliber to deliver that speech about the dignity of stay-at-home mothers. And while there are plenty of basketball pictures bouncing around, this is the first to give equal prominence to women's pro ball — that alone makes it stand out from the pack. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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