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In 1981 in L.A., Monica moves in next door to Quincy. They're 11, and both want to play in the NBA, just like Quincy's dad. Their love-hate relationship lasts into high school, with Monica's edge and Quincy's top-dog attitude separating them, except when Quincy's parents argue and he climbs through Monica's window to sleep on the floor. As high school ends, they come together as a couple, but within a year, with both of them playing ball at USC, Quincy's relationship with his father takes an ugly turn, and it leads to a break up with Monica. Some years later, their pro careers at a crossroads, they meet again. It's time for a final game of one-on-one with high stakes. Written by
After playing a smooth-talking player in Waiting to Exhale (1995), Dennis Haysbert was hesitant to play another cheater. He told Jet he took the role because "Then I saw the emphasis was going to be on the father-son relationship. That was something that was close to my heart." See more »
When Quincy is kissing a girl in front of her car, in the background, the shadow of the crew microphone can be seen on the grass. See more »
Instantly, when I watched this one, I could not help but harken back to Everybody's All-American, which had sports as an undercurrent to the central love story between Gavin and Babs streching a full quarter-century in spanning four decades. Even with football enveloping all which had entwined their lives, the humaneness of those two characters could not be discounted, especially with Babs emerging into a more stronger character who came into her own as a woman and an individual toward the film's end.
I bring that up to start my assessment of Love and Basketball. Yes, there were differences, of course, with Quincy (Omar Epps, of whose work I have been a fan of since "Juice" in 1992) and Monica (Sanaa Lathan, who has seemingly come from nowhere to emerge as a serious talent to be reckoned with on the screen!) both being African-American. And instead of football, the sport was basketball. And instead of one athlete, there were two, as Monica was a superior talent on par with Gavin Gray and Quincy McCall. And the story, of course, was set more in the recent past, from 1981 to the present.
Nonethelss, this was also a film which touched my heart. I loved the depth which both actors in this film displayed, showing them not only as athletes and people, but also as they were with regard to their families as well. And the depths from where they came to where they ultimately went, from their beginnings as children to the adults they grew up into, was nothing short of amazing. I saw this not as a "black" movie, but rather as a movie about African-Americans and their dreams, desires, pains and triumphs as individuals and as a couple.
The way this was broken down into four quarters is a testament to Gina Prince-RockByTheWood's astute writing and directing. And the supporting cast was on-mark also, from Alfre Woodard and Debbi Morgan on through to Dennis Haysbert and Harry J. Lennix...as well as Tyra Banks in her smaller yet significant role as the film bore on down the stretch. All-in-all, a film definitely worth the see. I came away with a warm smile not only on my face, but in my heart as well.
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