Just as streetball is a pale version of college or NBA basketball, so too is Crossover a pathetic imitation of an emotionally engaging, professionally made movie. Replacing fundamentals and teamwork with empty flash and flair, streetball hip-hop-izes the Harlem Globetrotters’s entertain-first compete-second routine, with game scores barely mattering and players—each boasting WWE-style monikers like “The Professional,” “Hot Sauce,” and “Half-Man, Half-Amazing”—focusing first and foremost on showcasing their impressive balling skills via (technically illegal) moves and acrobatic dunks. Preston A. Whitmore II’s film reliably mirrors its pseudo-sport subject’s principal interest in superficial sizzle, coating its clichéd tale in slow-motion images of high-flyers rocking the rim, spasmodic editing effects, and slang-heavy discussions about love, loyalty, and the dreaminess of life in California. Yet even for a decidedly shallow endeavor, Crossover is amazingly inept at delivering basic basketball excitement or melodramatic tension, with the director incapable of thrillingly staging or shooting his centerpiece “underground” contests, and his wooden cast—led by Anthony Mackie and Wesley Jonathan as lifelong friends struggling to achieve on-court and medical school success, respectively—sounding as if they’re reading lines off a Jumbotron screen. Considering the proceedings’ overriding inanity, it’s mildly ironic that the lesson propounded by Whitmore’s fiasco is pro-education and anti-athletic glory. When contrasted with the film’s celebration of fancy cars, fancier motorcycles (Jonathan repeatedly dons a yellow racing jacket that makes him look like an extra from Torque) and sub-White Men Can’t Jump basketball hustling, such stay-in-school moralizing comes off as thoroughly disingenuous. For pure phoniness, however, nothing trumps the awful “acting” of America’s Next Top Model winner Eva Pigford as Jonathan’s traitorous girlfriend, nor insufferable improvisational comedian Wayne Brady’s embarrassing attempt to erase his squeaky clean TV image by co-starring as a nefarious sports agent-cum-streetball overlord—an endeavor that requires him to state, at one particularly offensive point in a film full of them, that playing in the NBA is “every black boy’s dream.”
- Columbia Pictures
- 95 min
- Preston A. Whitmore II
- Preston A. Whitmore II
- Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathan, Wayne Brady, Alecia Jai Fears, Eva Pigford, Little JJ, Philip Champion
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