Retro Review: Love & Basketball

Written: April 17, 2000

“All is fair in love and Basketball,” says Omar Epps to onscreen girlfriend Sanaa Lathan in the film “Love and Basketball”.

Epps and Lathan play childhood friends who grow up around the trials and tribulations of the basketball world.

Epps has problems with his pro-basketball father as Lathan does her best to try to amount up to a world she so desperately wants to fit into.

This love-story set against the back drop of emerging basketball players might make one think that this is a “black movie” aimed squarely at that audience. Boy, are they wrong.

This is one of the most tender love stories I have seen in years. It all has to do with the strong cast.

First off is Omar Epps, who has been good since I first noticed him in another sports movie called “The Program” which once more pitted him in NCCA competition but at that time he was a football player.

If you haven’t seen “The Program” it’s one you need to rent. It’s one of my favorite football movies.

In this film, Omar delivers the edge of a spoiled athlete who has the soul of a boy.

Next has to be the enchanting performance of Sanaa Lathan. Lathan is so real and truthful in this love story.

Since the majority of the film focused on her we saw the depth and raw emotion coming from this real breaking out star. Watch for this girl.

Away from the leads, you have Dennis Haysbert as Epps’ father and Alfre Woodard as Lathan’s mother. These flawed parental figures were subtle but brilliant performances. Haysbert is a pro basketball player on his way down but living up to his son’s perfect image leads to his unraveling.

Woodard is always brilliant and here her parental figure believes her daughter resents her stay at home role.

Another strength found within “Love and Basketball” is the often over-looked scenes that make us relate and care about the characters. These little scenes are so key to a strong love story.

The scenes I mean are the yearning scenes or the magic in just one look.

These scenes grab you and make you want to be apart of the magic that is love. Get in line to see this film because its sure to bring you some of the “soul of love”.

(4.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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