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copyright ©1999-2000

flick pick | Love and Basketball 2000
Directed + written by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Starring: Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:   
lovey, serious
The verdict: / 5 the rating system explained

Plot synopsis The first time Monica Wright meets Quincy McCall, she’s just moved into the house next door and wandered over to a neighborhood kids’ game of basketball. Quincy, who plans to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the NBA one day, doesn’t think girls can play ball, but Monica – whose got some hoop dreams of her own – quickly proves him wrong. Quincy knocks her over before she gets a chance to beat him, and their love/hate relationship is born. By the time they’ve reached senior year of high school, they’re the sort of best friends that know so much about one another, and feel so comfortable in their relationship, that they can feel free to tell each other anything, even when the truth hurts. Cocky Q – who as the school’s star basketball player, has throngs of college scouts and girls constantly feeding his ego – needs Monica to occasionally cut him down-to-size. And serious Monica, who’s anxious about whether she’ll get recruited to a good basketball school, won’t listen to anyone but Q when he says that her bad temper is what’s really getting in the way when she’s out on the court. Inevitably, the friendship turns to love, and when both get recruited to play ball at USC, it seems like they’re well on the way to achieving their dreams. But things start to get complicated when Q’s family life distracts him from basketball, just as Monica’s beginning to come into her own as a star on the women’s team.

Review Love and Basketball is not just another sappy cute love story, or a feel-good sports movie either. It’s a simple, straightforward story, true, but exceedingly well-told, with fully fleshed-out characters and acting that’s so natural, it doesn’t feel like acting at all. There aren’t a lot of movie love stories out there that really get it right, acknowledging how much work it takes on the part of both parties to balance your own needs with the needs of another. Love, like basketball, is a tricky combination of luck, determination, individual strength and the willingness to occasionally sacrifice just a bit of personal glory for the sake of the team. Omar Epps is thoroughly believable as Q, but the movie is primarily told from the woman’s point of view, giving it an interesting, subtly feminist twist on the both the sports movie and boy-meets-girl clichés. And as Monica, Sanaa Lathan is just plain wonderful, her facial expressions revealing just the right amount of uncertainty beneath the tough, driven exterior. — reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun 

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