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Love and Basketball

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Basketball is the backdrop of a story about two childhood friends with mad b-ball skills who grow up together, fall in love, and struggle to maintain their relationship. Quincy McCall (Omar Epps, The Wood) is the son of a former NBA player, and Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan, The Best Man) is a hotheaded tomboy. First-time feature director Gina Prince-Bythewood (a veteran TV writer for Felicity and A Different World) divides the story, which begins in 1981, into four quarters. Each examines the complex levels of growing pains in Quincy's and Monica's lives as both play ball in high school, college, and the pros. The filmmaking is simple, but the wholesome story is well-written and realistically details the difficulties of maintaining a romance. While Epps and Lathan deliver true emotion on screen, Alfre Woodard (Mumford) and Debbie Morgan (The Hurricane) provide the most interesting portrayals as the couple's mothers, two upper-class housewives struggling to find their place in their children's lives and maintain balance with their husbands. The central characters may be African-Americans who love basketball, but the story isn't a "black" film or jock tale -- it's a heartwarming drama all cultures will enjoy. (PG-13) Rating: 8

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