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Movie Review

Quincy McCall has one dream in life: to play basketball in the NBA like his father Zeke, a Los Angeles Clipper. Monica Wright is the tomboy next door. She also has aspirations to play in the NBA, despite her gender. As the two grow up together in the 1980s, a mutual fascination for basketball draws them together on and off the court. With his famous father and natural talent, Quincy becomes the superstar jock of Crenshaw High and secures a scholarship to the University of Southern California. Monica, on the other hand, almost forfeits her chance to play college ball because of her fiery temper during games. So when USC offers her a scholarship at the last minute, life seems complete with Quincy by her side and hoop dreams in the making. But as Monica hits her stride amid adversity, Quincy’s charmed life begins to unravel. Family struggles, broken trust and diverging scholastic goals tear them apart as both pursue basketball careers. Will Quincy and Monica’s love bring them back together?

Positive Elements: The constructive influence of family plays an important role throughout the story. A young Quincy’s parents reprimand him for swearing. Zeke regrets cheating on Quincy’s mom, Nona. Nona warns her son about the dangers of casual sex (though her greatest concern is that her wealthy son might be trapped by a gold-digger). Quincy’s parents show him the value of an apology after he accidentally injures someone. Two coaches reprimand Monica for her prima donna behavior and teach her lessons in self-control and sportsmanship. Full-time motherhood is applauded when Monica’s mom lists the ways she has been able to give her children a loving home. Zeke stresses the importance of higher education over financial gain to his son as he shares his regrets of never finishing school. When Quincy finds out his dad has lied to him about having an affair, a sacred trust is broken. Indeed, Zeke’s adultery and cover-up cause a great rift in the family. Monica also feels the sting of lost trust when Quincy’s wandering eye causes him to cheat on her. The virtues of friendship are explored as Quincy and Monica try to balance school, basketball and a deep love for one another.

Spiritual Content: None

Sexual Content: Coarse sexual slang and content mars the film. At a dance, boys grope the girls who are wearing tight, low-cut dresses. Several frank discussions about sex arise and both genders ogle each other. Safe sex propaganda pops up when Quincy dons a condom while bedding Monica. Later on, they play "strip basketball" (Quincy’s rear is shown momentarily and Monica takes off her shirt). A poster of women in thong swimsuits graces the wall of Quincy’s dorm room. An assumption is made that physical intimacy is normal for dating relationships and promiscuity passes for the status quo among pro athletes. Monica facetiously tells her mother she is a lesbian. Locker room and dorm room scenes reveal women in sports bras. Quincy sees provocative photos of his dad’s affair. A married couple having sex is overheard from a child’s bedroom.

Violent Content: During a backyard basketball game, a young Quincy shoves Monica, leaving her with a bleeding face. Shortly thereafter, she returns the favor by wrestling him to the ground. Monica pushes Quincy during an argument. A quarrel erupts when Nona throws an object at Zeke. Monica’s mother slaps her across the face.

Crude or Profane Language: Close to ten s-words and an f-word. God’s name is abused twice. More than 25 mild profanities and crude anatomical expressions.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Quincy gets intoxicated at a party. Zeke frequents sports bars and drinks beer. Nona turns to the bottle to deal with her stress.

Summary: With basketball as its backdrop, this love story succeeds in developing two characters who are caught in the web of life trying to figure out how to achieve their goals without forfeiting family and friends. Love and Basketball has great messages that many families might have benefited from. Bad decisions frequently carry consequences—from the college athlete whose playing days are cut short by a pregnancy, to the pain of distrust and infidelity, to the need for self-control on and off the court. It’s too bad novice director Gina Prince-Bythewood had to drag lewd language and lust into a script that didn’t need it.

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Profanity/Violence

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Credits

Rating

PG-13

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Author

Cast

Omar Epps as Quincy McCall; Sanaa Lathan as Monica Wright; Dennis Haysbert as Zeke McCall; Debbi Morgan as Nona Mcall; Alfre Woodard as Camille Wright; Harry J. Lennix as Nathan Wright

Director

Gina Prince-Bythewood ( Beyond the LightsThe Secret Life of Bees)

Distributor

New Line Cinema

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In Theaters

On Video

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Reviewer

Jonathan Bartha

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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