Love and Basketball Movie Review

Of all of the projects for Spike Lee to attach his name onto, Love and Basketball may go down as one of the most idiotic. Lee produced this Hoop Dreams meets Romeo and Juliet love story and his largest mistake by far was to hand the position of director over to Gina Prince-Bythewood. Prince may have made four films, but she still hasn't gotten it quite right. And, from the looks of it, she won't be getting it right anytime soon.

Love and Basketball concerns Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan), a basketball loving girl who wants nothing more than to be the first woman in the NBA. Her next door neighbor, Quincy McCall (Omar Epps) is the son of a NBA player and wants nothing more than to follow in his father's footsteps and get some booty along the way. When he realizes (at about age 18) that the booty he has been wanting all along has been living next door, he quickly hooks up with her. Both find themselves going to USC and both find themselves on the USC basketball teams.

At this point, you are a half hour into the movie. The remaining hour and a half is wasted on the will-they-won't-they as their romance becomes turbulent, then nonexistent, and then turbulent again. It is also wasted on Monica's undying quest to become the first female NBA player, and the hardships that she must face as a woman who loves basketball.

All of this ardent feminism is a great thing, but placed in the inept hands of screenwriter and director Gina Prince-Bythewood it turns into an excuse to attempt to further a story about love. If Love and Basketball focused on its romantic aspects and removed the failed attempt to make the story have three plots (Quincy's career, Monica's career, and Quincy and Monica) then it might just have ended up being entertaining. Instead, it ended up being very trite and very tiring. Add to this already faulty film the fact that it is told in quarters, three of which take place in the 1980s, and you often end up feeling as if you are watching the basketball game from hell with retro music on.

The only things that make this movie even close to bearable are the excellent performances by its two leads. Epps, who has been on a good streak since his role on ER takes a low-grade stock character such as Quincy and makes him into someone we can stand to watch for two hours. Lathan positively shines as Monica... almost making an unwatchable character into something I can look at for the duration of the film. If it weren't for the two of them, I might have been tempted to walk out.

He lost game.


Love and Basketball Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 2000


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