Plot: What’s it about?
At Sunset Park High School, a group of young men have turned into gifted basketball players with real potential, but unless they can stay focused, their futures won’t be as bright as they could be, not even close. The team has several talented players and although they have the dream & even the skills to make it to the next level, it seems like some kind of obstacles always wind up in their paths. Even with the immense skills found on the team, something is missing and without that vital element, the players will never be able to hone their games, become champions, and most importantly, gain control over their lives. A new coach could be just what the team needs, but when Phyllis Saroka (Rhea Perlman) is handed the position, it looks as if little change is expected. Saroka is a woman with no experience in basketball, she knows little about the game and as if that wasn’t enough, she has a host of personal problems of her own to deal with. As expected, the team isn’t warm to her at first, but as time passes, she and the players begin to bond and with a little cooperation, perhaps this team could fulfill its potential after all and in the process, even teach their coach a thing or two about life.
This kind of premise has been explored time & time again, but for some reason, films like Sunset Park continue to be made. The concept has been done in endless ways and while some movies have been able to succeed due to new twists, Sunset Park is satisfied with being run of the mill, so new turns can be found here. As such, it comes off as an always ran, the kind of movie we’ve seen before and we’ve seen it done better, no doubt about it. I do like how the Rhea Perlman (Tv’s Cheers) character is not a shining hero to the players in the usual sense, but since the material is thin on development, even that is wasted before long. In addition to Perlman, former Onyx rapper Fredro Starr (Save the Last Dance, Clockers), Carol Kane (Scrooged, The Last Detail), and Terrence Dashon Howard (Angel Eyes, Big Momma’s House) have prominent roles, but with such limited material, don’t expect much out of the performances. As if the audience wasn’t limited enough for this release, Columbia has chosen to release a pan & scan only disc, which means even if you want this movie, this DVD isn’t worth the cash.
Video: How does it look?
Sunset Park is presented in a full frame transfer, which just plain sucks. The laserdisc was framed at 1.85:1 and without question, fans would prefer a recycled letterbox transfer than this mess, although Columbia should have created a new anamorphic widescreen treatment, of course. The image is sharp and shows minimal flaws, but with as expected, the visual compositions are off balance and that cancels the visuals from the start. Not a bad looking effort for a hack session, but let’s hope Columbia comes to their senses soon and stops butchering their films like this. I know Sunset Park is not a wide interest release, but when the image is hacked like this, even the limited fans will refuse a purchase, no doubt about it.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is solid in all respects, but because of the nature of the material, the audio never becomes too memorable. The surrounds don’t come alive too often, but the game scenes have some depth and of course, the musical soundtrack makes good use of all of the speakers. Aside from those elements however, this is an average, but acceptable audio treatment with minimal bells & whistles. The dialogue is clean and easy to understand however, so I suppose I have no serious complaints to make here. This disc also includes subtitles in English and French, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.