|Index||2 reviews in total|
Recently saw this film at the Tribeca Film festival and have to say that we enjoyed the film very much. Not only are the story and performances great, but the visuals of the film and the soundtrack make this a fantastic 2 hours. There was a great consistency of stylistic transitions and some of the best authentic basketball playing in a film. Very authentic when it came to that for sure. Grayson's performance was also very good, as were all of the actors. It was great seeing some notable actors playing different roles then you are used to seeing them in. But a great film and if you get the chance I highly recommend seeing Ball Don't Lie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A hard-hitting basketball drama.
In bringing de la Peña's young-adult novel to the screen, director Hill recruits enough recognizable actors for three pick-up games. Ludicrous and James Pickens, Jr. (Grey's Anatomy) play social workers who try to find Sticky a good home and, not incidentally, introduce him to basketball. His patently unfit single mom (Emilie de Ravin) was a prostitute who shacked up with her pimpa nasty string bean played by Nick Cannon who, in one of the movie's more luridly sensational scenes, uses Sticky as an ashtray. (Cannon is so convincing his real life wife Mariah Carey may want to rethink having kids.) His mother's traumatic demise, staged during the film's climactic quarter, led to Sticky being taken in by a series of mostly well-meaning foster parents limned by Roseanna Arquette, Melissa Leo and Desperate Housewives' Ricardo Chavira, among others. The rec center where he hangs out is run by a stuttering guy with thick glasses (Harold Perrineau) who's constantly chewing out the rowdy habitués portrayed by the likes of Mykelti Williamson, Steve Harris (scary) and Cress Williams.
In his acting debut, Boucher, a street basketball prodigy known as "The Professor," is the key to whatever authenticity this the coming of age story possesses. He makes the bleacher full of melodramatic plot turns seem less soapyas does the Venice setting, since we're not as accustomed to seeing such hardship by the sea or under a sun shining so brightly. An impassioned speech by one of Sticky's African-American b-ball acquaintances detailing his philosophy of haves-versus-have-nots and race relations injects another dimension that helps move Ball Don't Lie some way beyond sports and social service clichés. Hill appears to try everything he can think of to make the flashback structure feel less cumbersome and to vary the visual texture. His proficiency at short films and commercials is evident in his camera (which is constantly panning and playing peek-a-boo), as well as his liberal use of color and exposure variations to depict Sticky's nightmarish past. Sticky's stabs at rapping are mirrored not only by the movie's stanza-like structure but also by the energetic hip-hop soundtrack.
When the buzzer finally sounds, Ball Don't Lie has what you might call an excess of street cred. As the title suggests, a lack of athletic ability is difficult to conceal on the basketball court. On screen, talented filmmakers can sometimes try too hard to convey the truth.
Cast: Grayson Boucher, Kim Hidalgo, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Nick Cannon, Rosanna Arquette, Emilie de Ravin, Harold Perrineau, Mykelti Williamson, James Pickens, Jr., Steve Harris, Melissa Leo, Ricardo Chavira, and Matthew St. Patrick.
danceability-1, Amsterdam Holland
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