Here’s a little bit about me: I love basketball. I love everything about it, from playing a pickup game on the blacktop, to watching pros do the impossible daily on the hardwood. To me it’s one of the most exhilarating sports in existence of all time ever. It is this love for basketball that led me to approach this week’s movie with a sense of both excitement and mistrust. I didn’t want to see my beloved sport squandered on the big screen. I knew this movie wouldn’t be well done—none of the movies I watch for this column are. Regardless, I came in with the hope that the sanctity of my cherished American pastime would be preserved. It saddens me to say that my hope was vanquished.
Crossover released in 2006 is a flat out abominable film. It feels as if you are watching a 90-minute early-2000’s Sprite commercial. If you are looking for a thought provoking film, meaning you are looking to routinely ask “what?” and “why?” than this is the one for you. There is a barely discernable plot to this film, and though I have previously summarized the entirety of the movies for these articles, it would be impossible to do so in a succinct manner. Things happen in this movie that do not have any reason for being there. I audibly asked myself at the conclusion of this film “What just happened?”
Some of the small key facts are that two friends Cruise (Wesley Jonathan) and Tech (Anthony Mackie) are basketball-playing buddies who start off competing in an underground street ball battle against Jewelz (Hot Sauce) and Team Platinum. The battles are run by, and fixed by, ex-sport agent/entrepreneur Vaughn (Wayne Brady). We find out Cruise gets a scholarship to UCLA and has aspirations of turning pro. This is basically the gist of the film. If the movie followed the basic premise laid out in the first section, it might have had a chance at being a halfway decent picture. This “plot” carries throughout the film without thickening in any way that is past a surface level. What I mean is that we don’t delve into Cruise or Tech’s family life, we don’t learn what it’s like living and playing ball in Detroit, and we don’t get a glimpse into either man’s love life past few snippets of making out in pools and going out on lunch dates. The script is shallow and uncaring.
Let’s also look at the cast here. Immediately I was surprised to see Anthony Mackie in this film. He had played parts in Million Dollar Baby and Half Nelson prior to Crossover, and he would go on to play parts in The Hurt Locker and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Mackie is a legitimately talented actor. I can’t imagine how he got tied up in this film—it certainly wasn’t for money because Crossover boasted a measly budget that is the only reason it was not a box office bomb. Secondly, as someone who used to love watchingthe AND1 Mixtape Tour as a kid, seeing Hot Sauce play basketball is nothing short of incredible. Not to mention, Hot Sauce was featured in one of the best videogames of its time, NBA Ballers: Phenom. I was so excited to see him billed in this production. His skills were not at all showcased in this film—and it was deeply saddening. If you took out an iPhone and filmed Hot Sauce playing a real game of basketball, this would of easily been four times better of a film.
This leads me to my last big gripe in the film, the lack of actual basketball being played. A mindless, stale script is ok—just give me some sweet anklebreakers and dunks, I’ll be content. I’m not sure there is a way to prove this, but I think the hoops must have been brought down to 8 ft in this film. There were some cheesy Air Bud-esque slams going on here. The game scenes were wholly unimpressive. I reminisced to the days when I was a kid and would play Nerf basketball in my basement with other kids from the neighborhoods. In all honesty I’d much rather watch a chubby kid throw down a sick jam on a little plastic hoop than see an actual professional player like Hot Sauce have his talents go to waste.
Sure, I believe it is hard to make a good sports movie. But I think it is also hard to make a truly bad one. All you have to do is film people organically playing a sport—that will be enough to garner interest from a sports fan like myself. And when you besmirch the name of a wonderful game like basketball, things get personal, I get upset, I start fuming behind my keyboard, and I dream of the day that I can line up the people responsible for this film and posterize each one of them Blake Griffin style (Is it too late for me to give up on my dream of being able to dunk the ball?). Look, the next NBA season is starting up in a week and I’m not trying to dwell on the badness that is this movie. I’ve watched this horrible movie, I’ve written about it, and now, if it’s ok, I’d like to wash my hands of it.
By Ahmi Goldberg