Monday, 17 August 2015

#46 Crossover (2006) (Colin)

Cast: Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathan, Eva Marcille, Wayne Brady, Little JJ

Director: Preston A. Whitemore II

Genre: Action, Sport

The next movie in our list is all about basketball, a sport I have to admit I find rather dull.  To me, basketball plays out like this: bounce bounce bounce 2 points, bounce bounce bounce 2 points, bounce bounce bounce 3 points, (big cheer), bounce bounce bounce 2 points, bounce bounce foul!, bounce bounce bounce 1 point, bounce bounce bounce and so on and so on.

I am being naïve and there is probably a lot more bouncing that I realise.

I’ve never really given basketball a chance so what better way to try to whet my appetite than a movie based around the sport.  Teen Wolf did not manage it, nor did Space Jam although to be fair I was asleep through most of it, (as was the rest of the cinema).  Was Crossover the movie to finally change my view?

The first thing we learn early on in the movie, is that Crossover is not about basketball, (or as I first thought, the paranormal), but a more flamboyant version played in the ‘street’ called ‘streetball’, (wow, that must have taken a while to name!).  Sure there’s lots of bounce bounce bounce, but skills and being a bit of a show off are also encouraged.  The first to 21 points wins and the organiser of the matches, a shady ex-sports agent called Vaughn, (Wayne Brady), pockets a shed load of money from dodgy betting scams based around the game.

The movie is essentially 2 stories which co-exist throughout.  Firstly there is the story of Tech, (Anthony Mackie), who is a talented streetball player desperate to get out of the Detroit slums.  He makes money by hustling players on the street basketball courts and teams up with another talented streetball player called Up, (Lil’ JJ), (which is an odd name for a kid and I can only think his parents were massive Sonic the Hedgehog fans and that Up was named after the cheat you entered: Up C, Down C, Left C, Right C, ABC+Start).

His story is to exact revenge on rival Jewelz, (Philip Champion), an arrogant streetball player whose team are currently champions and undefeated.  Tech’s team narrowly loses to them at the beginning of the movie which leads Jewelz to taunt and belittle Tech.  What better way to get revenge than by betting Vaughn with his hustled streetball money, that he can thrash Jewelz team and end their undefeated run, (Clingfilm on the toilet? Laxatives in his drink? Swapping his vitamin tablets for Viagra?).

The other story revolves around Tech’s friend, Noah Cruise, (Wesley Jonathan), who is a standalone star in Tech’s team and a natural talent.  He wins a scholarship to UCLA, however, instead of using this on basketball and becoming pro, Cruise wishes to use the scholarship to study and pursue a career in medicine.  His mind is 50/50 until he accidentally makes short time girlfriend and 1 night stand, Vanessa, (Eva Pigford), pregnant and decides he should do the right thing, marry her and go for the safe medicine career option.

Vaughn, spotting Cruise’s talent and dollar signs, desperately tries to persuade Cruise to abandon the sensible career path.  He offers to become Cruise’s agent and to use his contacts to get Cruise into the NBA.  When Cruise constantly pushes back, Vaughn realises he may have to resort to desperate tactics.

Will Tech’s team pull off the upset and get their revenge over Jewelz?  Can Vaughn change Cruise’s mind?  And will I be able to complete level 208 in Candy Crush Saga, the game I’m playing whilst this movie bores me to tears?

The answer to the last question, I’m pleased to say, is yes, (but I had to use a lollipop hammer).

Crossover starts off with the promise of fast paced action.  Director Preston A. Whitemore II seems to be influenced by Guy Ritchie and the opening titles remind me of Ritchie’s direction in Lock Stock or Snatch and is full of snappy short scenes cut with cool cars and fancy basketball skills to the soundtrack of thumping hip hop.  All looks and sounds good until the titles end and the pace slows down to a crawl.  Crossover goes from Lock Stock Ritchie to Swept Away Ritchie in the blink of an eye, (see blog here).

Apart from a little montage half way through when Tech and Up are hustling other streetball players, the movie is very pedestrian.  This is not helped by the continual interruption of Up with Basketball trivia questions to Tech.  I assume this is for the real Basketball fans and is meant to test their knowledge, but to people like me who are unfamiliar with the sport, this serves as nothing more than an unwanted pause in the movie.

Maybe next time they could make it more exciting by having a jazzy jingle to accompany the quiz, maybe a glamorous assistant to show Tech what he could win and the promise of being ripped apart by a hungry honey badger if he gets the answer wrong.

To be honest though, it would take more than a vicious small animal to make any of these characters more interesting.  Whitemore II not only directed and gave us this milk float of a movie, but also wrote and created the dullest clichéd characters he could imagine.

Up really is only there to pose basketball teasers to Tech and has no other role in the movie.  Vaughn is such a bad pantomime baddie, that I half expected Brady to slip on a bright pink fake wig, a very large spotty dress and ask the audience where is the script, (it’s behind you!).  Tech’s girlfriend is just background and upstaged by potted plants.  Cruise’s girlfriend is just lifted out of movies which need a stereotypical black nasty female character and comes complete with neck shaking, clicking fingers and uh-ha noises.

The movie centres on Tech, which is really odd considering the main story is about Cruise and his conflicting feelings about trying to go pro or study medicine.  Tech’s character is not strong enough to command a movie and watching him collect a few bucks so he can place a bet on the revenge game against Jewelz is neither interesting nor gripping.

However, it is Cruise’s character that without a shadow of a doubt, makes this movie such a lame duck.  He whinges, whines and bores his way through the movie and he is such a dull character that actually I don’t care if he chooses basketball or medicine.  My only wish is that if he chooses medicine, he makes sure he overdoses on an experimental drug he makes in his dorm during the first trimester to save us from any threat of a sequel, (Oh wait, that would involve Cruise's character doing something interesting, so that's unlikely to happen!).

So did Crossover change my view that basketball is a dull sport?  Well no and mainly because the main character seems to shun away the thought of being a multi-millionaire NBA superstar in favour of studying.  Is playing professional basketball so dull that you’d rather stare at clear liquids for days on end to monitor whether or not they change into a slightly less clearer liquid?

Off course not, that’s ludicrous and one of the main reasons this movie falls down is because it is so unbelievable that a kid from a tough harsh background would shun a one in a million chance to make good for himself and his family.  And even if this was true and the kid just wanted a more stable career, that’s fine in real life, but as a movie?  Well it’s hardly popcorn entertainment is it?

I’ll end with one of Up’s trivia questions:  Which 2006 movie, directed by Preston A. Whitemore II and starring Anthony Mackie, is so dull, dire and dreadful, that it appeared at #46 in Colin and Wes’s top 100 bad movies of all time and bored one half of the team to Candy Crush Saga?