This film commits many cardinal sins, let’s list them before I get into the review:
- It’s based on an advert. I’m used to films based on a book, or a TV, or a party game, but an advert? FUCK that!
- Most of the cast are young people in old people prosthetics.
- It’s about basketball. A sport I have little to no interest in.
So really this review should be full of the kind of vitriol usually reserved for undercooked pastries. Yet……I liked it. Yes, a lot of the performances were so exaggerated and cringe-worthy that it made it hard to watch. Yes, the story seemed like it was all put together on the back of a cereal box, and not a big one, one of those travel boxes. Yes, there’s so much product placement it’s almost embarrassing. Yes, it feels it needs a 5-10 minute dance sequence in the middle of it. And yes, the traditional “a teams player gets injured mid-game and needs to be replaced” happens TWICE in the closing section and I’m still not entirely sure why (seemed to be just so can get a view of Shaq’s butt cheeks). But I liked it. It was funny as hell and incredibly heartwarming. It would have been so easy for this basketball movie to be an own goal, luckily it’s a real hole-in-one touchdown (I’m not great at sports metaphors). It knows just when (and importantly, how) to get to you emotionally, to the point where I was glad for the credits scenes as it gave me time to wipe my eyes dry after (no, you’re crying!).
The film rests entirely on Lil Rel Howery, best known as the friend from Get Out. He walks the line between outrageous comedy performance and reality performance brilliantly. If he was replaced by someone who leant too far the other way it would have ruined the entire film. Playing his role somewhat reminiscent of a less annoying Kevin Hart, he’s a great lead for this and should be commended. His character should too, well, the films approach to his character anyway. A lot of times in sports films when we see someone who is good at a sport it’s because they’re really good the first time they attempt it, or they show some skill for it early on. This makes it seem like being good at it is just a matter of genetics. This film shows the other way; it shows him young, not being brilliant the first time he picks up a ball, but he practices, and practices, and practices. It’s revolutionary for a film to show that, I don’t get why though, but I like that this film takes the time to do it.
So to sum up, I liked it, but I probably would have liked it more if I actually gave a crap about basketball as I would have appreciated the cameos more.