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September 2006

THIS IS NOT YET RATED

by Wilson Morales

THIS IS NOT YET RATED

Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Director: Preston A. Whitmore II
Producer: Frank Mancuso Jr.
Screenwriter: Preston A. Whitmore II
Cinematographer: Christian Sebaldt
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathan, Wayne Brady, Kristen Wilson, Lil J.J., Phillip “Hot Sauce” Champion, Eva Pigford, Alecia Fears
   

 

When ever we see a sports film, whether it be basketball, baseball, or football, to name a few, we, the audience, expect to see some real life high flying display of action. At the same time we expect the story to have some substance and have some sense of realism as we have seen in the past film such as “Remember the Titans”, “Friday Night Lights”, “Miracle”, and more recently “Glory Road”. We also expect the acting and writing to be on par with the action so that it doesn’t seem pretentious. With “Crossover”, you have mistakes made all-around from the action to the writing to the acting.

Tech (Mackie) is one of the best players in the neighborhood. In a paid basketball game sponsored by a bookie, Tech needs the help of the childhood friend Cruise (Jonathan) to beat their longtime rivals. Because of his greed to win the game and be “The Man”, Tech loses his team focus and it costs him the game, yet he still gets paid for second place. Cruise doesn’t want the money because it may jeopardize his scholarship that he just received from UCLA. His ambition is to go to med school. That ambition takes a back seat once a couple of girls he and Tech meet at a party. Eboni and Vanessa (Pigford) work at a nail salon and Vanessa sets her sights on Cruise and he’s quickly smitten to the point where he takes her to LA for a college visit instead of Tech. That leaves Tech to hustle the game with Up (Little JJ) to win some money so he can fly out there on his own dime. When Vaughn (Brady), the bookie and former sports agent, offers to guide Cruise to the NBA with his help and Cruise refuses, he threatens to tell on his accepting money for play, which could kill his UCLA hopes. Meanwhile, Tech has attitude issue he needs to overcome to continue working make a life for himself.

There isn’t much to say regarding this film besides that it’s downright corny and awful. First of all, the basketball games don’t look real and emotional. Whether it’s in the beginning or at the end, if there’s no emotion to the game, then there goes the film. Mackie is a fine actor, having done plenty of indie films where he’s shined, but in this film, he’s miscast. He’s too stilted and bland to pull off being a guy from the streets. Someone like Ja Rule would have done well with this part. Everyone from Brady’s Vaughn to Pigford’s Vanessa is so one-note with their performances that you could see where this film was headed from jump. No matter how well intentioned Preston Whitmore II was trying to convey the message, the execution of turning down fame for a med school degree wasn’t established.

This unresolved dilemma might help explain why the release of this stimulating and engaging morality play was delayed for two years. A marketing manager’s nightmare, Crossover is, like Moulin Rouge, a rare combination flick which refuses to be pigeonholed. Regrettably, in spite of several inspired moments where it exhibits some genuine promise, this desperate attempt to be all things to all people ends up sabotaging any potential the overly-ambitious project had to make a memorable and lasting
contribution to the annals of cinema.

Good (2 stars)
R for profanity, ethnic slurs, nudity, sexuality and violence.
Running time: 121 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures