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Love and Basketball  

Quincy McCall (Omar Epps)
Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan)
Mr. McCall (Dennis Haysbert)
Mrs. McCall (Debbi Morgan)
Mrs. Wright (Alfre Woodard)

Written and Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
Rated PG-13 for language and sexuality Running Time: 125 minutes Distributed by New Line Cinema
Love and Basketball
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Love and Basketball is a tender-hearted coming of age love story. Quincy McCall (Epps) and Monica Wright (Lathan) are childhood adversaries and talented athletes who have a love for the game of basketball and each other. As each pursues their dream of competing in professional sports, they must face their own respective hurdles. The film opens with Quincy and Monica as youngsters, when she moves in next door. Quincy is shocked to find she can play ball better than most guys can. The film jumps to Quincy and Monica's relationship in high school, then college, and finally as adults. As critical decisions arise to the two characters, the decisions that will be made will determine their future. Love and Basketball is a well-written love story that works.

Gina Prince-Bythewood delivers a brilliantly structured script. The script is divided into four quarters of the characters' lives. The first quarter is Quincy and Monica's relationship as kids, the second is their relationship in high school, the third is their relationship in college and the final quarter is their relationship as adults. The script has nice sequencing and established supporting characters as well. Gina Prince-Bythewood also makes her directorial debut with Love and Basketball. The film doesn't come close to having the "basketball feel" of Hoosiers or White Men Can't Jump. However, it is the relationship between the two lovers that is the centerpiece and satisfaction of this film.

Omar Epps turns in another stale performance as Quincy McCall. Epps has been in some really good films like Higher Learning, In Too Deep and Love and Basketball. The only performance in which he was effective was in Higher Learning. I just don't think that he is a good actor. However, a star has emerged in Sanaa Lathan, who plays Monica. Lathan delivers a terrific and in depth performance as the hot-tempered but likeable Monica. The only other film that I know of with Lathan in it is The Best Man, which I have not seen. This young actress has the skills to become one of the brightest young actresses around. I am so happy to see Dennis Haysbert back in a good role. Haysbert delivered a very weak performance in last year's Random Hearts. However, he bounces back with his performance as Quincy's loving but slimy father in Love and Basketball. Haysbert has done some good work throughout his career. His most memorable character is Pedro Cerrano in Major League. Also, Alfre Woodard gives a gracious performance as Monica's housewife mother. Woodard has some of the best eyes in Hollywood. Her big bright eyes bring a light intensity, which contributes to all of her performances.

Love and Basketball is an enjoyable movie that I believe most audiences will like. The writing and most of the acting paces this film to a strong finish.

Report Card Grade: B

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