Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Dammit, I wanted to like this one, I really did.  A movie about basketball and Black people, two of my favorite subjects by the way.  Shot in and around Detroit, where this intrepid website is located, and created by a native Detroiter I was prepared to absorb this in give it a positive review if could just avoid sucking total ass.  Unfortunately, it sucked total ass, and sadly, is a legitimate candidate for worst movie of the year.

Crossover centers around a young street balling tough by the name of Tech (Anthony Mackie) who is attempting to bring himself up after a stretch of bad luck.  He did some time, dropped out of high school and is trying to get his GED while helping out him mom and two younger siblings.  Tech’s closest friend, Cruise (Wesley Jonathan), has just the opposite lifestyle, as he lives in an upscale neighborhood, is a high school hoops star and has landed a scholarship to a California state college in hopes of getting into med-school.  In the middle of this is the gangsterish Vaughn (Wayne Brady) who runs an ‘And 1’ style streetball league with heavy betting.  Vaughn, being a former pro agent, has taken a liking to Cruise and wants him to turn pro out of high school, but Cruise uses basketball only as a means to an end with Medical school being his ultimate goal.  Everything begins to unravel for both Cruise and Tech when Cruise takes Tech and their respective girlfriends to California for a tour of the school and Tech gets to film a basketball commercial.

Note that it took some time to figure out why this movie sucked so bad.  All of the elements were there for at least an entertaining movie, if not a great one.  The acting was passable, and Anthony Mackie is a very good actor and one to watch, assuming this doesn’t kill his career.  Wayne Brady delivered a passable performance as the

somewhat antagonist, though the movie lacked a true bad guy.  Wesley Jonathan, aside from having two first names probably suffers the most as his ‘nice guy’ Cruise comes off as far too naïve and silly.  Simply wearing eyeglasses doesn’t pass for being smart anymore guys.  No, most of the blame is going to have to be laid at the feet of writer-director Preston Whitmore II who has written a script that has caricatures more than characters, and as such, you have very little connection to them and don’t have any interest in what happens to them.  There’s no real authenticity in what the characters say or what they do and some of the decisions they make are down right ludicrous. 

The pacing of the film is off kilter as well.  It starts off as if it were a music video with quick cuts, sliding boxes all laid over a hip hop / techno beat and after a while it started to grate on a nerve, but the slick music video style editing finally ended, the film drags to a slow moving crawl with characters you don’t care about, saying things you don’t care about and doing things that make no sense. 

The one thing that maybe could have saved ‘Crossover’ should have been the basketball, but unfortunately, it was no prize either.  The effort was there, mind you, filmed in that overlit, high shutterspeed style which lends itself to a quick staccato style of movement, but the energy in the basketball is what was missing.  Plus, the actors playing the basketball players were decent enough basketball players, but not very good streetball players.  The teams they were playing against were obviously true streetballers, complete with the wrap around dribbles, double backboard dunks, between the legs passing and all of the elements one expects from streetballers, but ours heroes team were pretty much by the book two handed chest passes, spotting up for threes and layups.  It just didn’t mesh with the game they were supposed to be playing.

All in all, ‘Crossover’ was huge disappointment as I really hoped this rained down threes like Lamar Mundane (Google him if you don’t know).  But instead of being a Shaquille O’Neal slam dunk alleyoop, it stumbles in as Ben Wallace free throw.  Dig the bad basketball simile yo.

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