on September 01, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
There's a lot of talent in “Crossover,” an urban basketball movie that would like to be inspirational while maintaining its gritty edge. The talent, unfortunately, does not reside in the skills of writer/director Preston Whitmore II. Whitmore's credits include the screenplay for 1996's “Fled” and a stint on the “Malcolm and Eddie” TV series a writer, but his directorial debut, 1995's “The Walking Dead,” about a band of black soldiers on a mission in Vietnam, was just about the worst film ever produced in the genre. It was juvenile in most everyway, from the script to the film-school production values, this despite the fact that it was a Warner Bros. release featuring talent the likes of Joe Morton and Allen Payne (who appears here).

This is relevant because more than a decade later, Whitmore's third feature as a writer/director suffers from all the same maladies. Shot on digital video that looks like digital video, its overwritten script is full of cliches, while the filmmaking (Whitmore has a penchant for slow motion during action scenes) is decidedly low-budget, despite the fact that the movie itself is not.

The talent is in the cast, including Anthony Mackie (“Half Nelson”) as Tech, a street baller who spent time in prison looking for a quick buck and some measure of fame; Wesley Jonathan (“Roll Bounce”) as Cruise, a kid with talent who would prefer to take a scholarship and become a doctor over the big leagues; and finally the continuously morphing Wayne Brady (“The Wayne Brady Show”), playing against type as an underground sports bookie intent on luring Cruise away from the college life for a shot at the pros and the big bucks.

The inspirational sports movie cliches notwithstanding, “Crossover” is just bad filmmaking that does not serve either its cast or its audience well. See “Invincible” instead. It's not brilliant, but it's not embarrassing either. Starring Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathan, Wayne Brady, Eva Pigford, Alicia Fears, Allen Payne and Lil' J.J. Directed and written by Preston A. Whitmore II. Produced by Frank Mancuso Jr. A Sony. Sports drama. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some language. Running time: 96 min.
Tags: Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathan, Wayne Brady, Eva Pigford, Alicia Fears, Allen Payne, Lil' J.J., Preston A. Whitmore II, Frank Mancuso Jr, Sony, Sports Drama, Street Baller

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