I wanted to see Virgin
Suicides but Robin said she wasn't interested in women who don't have
sex and kill themselves so we saw Love and Basketball instead. It's
a nice little film telling the usual story of a kid growing up with the
dream of being a professional athlete. The twist here is that the ``kid"
is a girl. Monica (Sanaa Lathan) is an 11 year old girl who follows
her dream to play basketball with singleminded intensity. Her struggles
are played out in sharp relief when compared to the easy time that the
kid next door, Quincy (Omar Epps), has as he seems destined for NBA stardom
from an early age. But it is Monica who has what it takes to make
her dreams come true while Quincy is just fulfilling other people's dreams.
Needless to say, Monica has loved Quincy ``since she was 11 years old"
and their relationship is the usual soap opera stuff. Also as expected,
Monica's family is not supportive of her ambitions. Her mother is played
by the incomparable Alfre Woodard who is more or less wasted here.
On the other hand, Quincy's family, particularly his father (Dennis Haysbert),
is pushing him toward a career in basketball. The script and story
are very predictable but it is the performance of Sanaa Lathan that makes
this an enjoyable film to watch. She appeared recently in The
Wood and The Best Man but
this is the first time I have seen her and she easily steals every scene
that she appears in. This is her story, and obviously a lot of autobiographical
material went into Love and Basketball from the writer/director, Gina Prince
who ran track at UCLA while attending film school. This isn't really
a sports movie. The classic basketball movie remains Hoosiers.
That film almost made me interested in basketball. But Love and Basketball
tells us that things have really changed since the time of Hoosiers
and it's very satisfying at the end to see Monica playing in WNBA while
Quincy watches from the sidelines.