Love and Basketball: Platinum Series

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As sports work their way into movies more and more, it will make sense that there will be more movies about them. And, contrary to the popular belief that Ron Shelton directs all movies about sports, it’s just not true. Another genre that has been growing by leaps and bounds is the romance movies. Now I’m not talking “An Affair To Remember” here, but the offbeat type of movies that appeal to a younger audience. Love and Basketball is just that, and while it mixes some of the elements of “White Men Can’t Jump”, it is essentially a love story that revolves around the theme of basketball. One thing that I immediately liked about this movie is that it didn’t try and stereotype the families. Though the cast is predominately black, it’s not a “black movie” per se. It’s a far cry away from movies like “Friday” and “Boyz in the Hood”. The story starts as Monica (Sanaa Lathan) moves into her new house right next door to Quincy and his family. Monica is somewhat of a tomboy and is interested in basketball. Interested, of course, is an undersatement. Basketball is her life. Though her father is a banker and mother a housewife (and proud of it), Monica bucks the system and continues to pursue her dream of becoming the first female professional basketball player. Conversely, we have Quincy. Quincy’s father, Zeke (Dennis Haysbert) is a professional basketball player (even if he plays for the Clippers) and Qunicy is set to follow in his footsteps.

The movie is divided, cleverly enough, into quarters (like that of a basketball game, get it?), and the first concnetrates on the early lives of Monica and Quincy. Shown to have a love hate relationship from their first meeting, we can tell that there will be an interesting chemistry with these two further into the movie. While the first quarter is brief, the second concentrates on the high school and college years. With the lead characters now playing their actual parts (though I don’t think Omar Epps can play a high schooler for much longer), we now see that both Quincy and Monica have become basketball stars. Monica, very emotional, has trouble keeping her feelings locked in while playing whereas Quincy has his father’s genes and is a rising star who has his pick of colleges to attend. Coming down to the last game, Monica is finally offered a full basketball scholarship to USC…oddly enough where Quincy has chosen to go to school (as did his dad). While in college, Quincy is the undisputed star of the team, even though he’s only a freshman. They manange to work in a “Sports Center” segment, making no atempt to concel the fact that the story is taking place in 1988-89 school year, but it gives us a picture of how good Quincy is. Trying to make their relationship work, Monica finally stars to suceed on the women’s basketball team, and her feelings that her coach didn’t like her are firmly dismissed. But things start to change…

Quarter three starts in 1993. Quincy and Monica have gone their seperate ways. Quincy dropped out of school as a Freshman to enter the draft and has now been traded around the NBA trying to make a name for himself. Monica has relocated to Spain and is now playing international league basketball. Though treated well and semi-successful, she misses Quincy and all the joys of being back home. You can probably see where this is going, but don’t be too sure. While I immediately labeled this movie wrong when it came out, I can see now that I was wrong. Combining all of the elements of a love story and a semi-good sports movie, Love and Basketball is a very well-made movie. With a great supporting cast that includes Alfrie Woodard and Dennis Haysbert the acting is strong and it’s not the stereotyped “black” movie that we see so much of lately. I was plesantly suprised by this DVD and I think you will be too.

Video: How does it look?

New Line, New Line, New Line…you kind of run out of adjectives when you have to describe their DVD’s. The image is clean, sharp, crisp, vibrant…pick any synonym of “clear” that you like. I noticed nothing that could deter this image from being short of reference quality. The 1.85:1 image is enhanced for widescreen TV’s and it looks sharp. The colors are well-balanced and the whole movie seems to have a certain “look” that is only present in some of the best transfers. Black levels were right on target, and edge enhancement is kept to a bare minimum. I noticed no artifacting, no digial errors and no compression errors. I’ve run out of words…

Audio: How does it sound?

While not nearly as impressive as the video, the audio doesn’t disappoint either. Active at times, the Dolgy Digital 5.1 soundtrack delivers at many times in the movie. As a majority of the movie takes place in the past, it’s kind of fun to listen to the old late 80’s hits (Bobby Brown’s “My Perrogative” caught my ear). The dialogue is clear and clean and free of any distortion. Surround effects, while kept to a minimum, are present at key times in the movie; most noteably during the basketball games (crowd effects). While I feel that there could have been more audio parts in the movie, I think what was used was right for the movie. After all, sound can make the difference between a comedy and an action movie. An excellent job here as well.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Keeping with its excellent tradition that New Line has built, Love and Basketball is part of their Platinum Series. Included is not one but two commentaries. The first includes commentary by actress Sanaa Lathan (Monica) and the Director. I’m becoming more of a fan of the “group” commentaries mainly due to the lack of the blank spots that seems to happen when only one person is doing the commentary. The next is more of a “half-commentary” as in Boiler Room, it’s an isolated Score with commentary. I like it this way, though…when the music comes on the commentary stops and you can listed to the score. Not a bad idea…Also included is an original documentary, “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” which concentrates on women and how hard it is to become successful. With interviews including Geraldine Ferraro (Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984) and many players from the Los Angles Sparks it keeps with the theme of the movie, if only expanding on what the movie already tried to express. Also included are some animated storyboards, with the final scene available as an option. I’m personally not that big of a fan of storyboards, but it’s always nice to have them available. A music video and theatrical trailer are included as are some deleted scenes with and without commentary, which is always a nice touch. Rounding out the extras are some outtakes and “gag reels”, but it’s mainly for fun that an actual added bonus on the disc. New Line scores again with another outstanding addition to their Platinum Series.

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