The 6th Man

on March 28, 1997 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   When brothers Antoine ("Vampire in Brooklyn's" Kadeem Hardison) and Kenny Tyler ("Don't Be a Menace's..." Marlon Wayans) played basketball as kids, they had dreams of making it to the NCAA finals. It was going to be "A & K all the way!" Before they have a chance to make their fantasy a reality, Antoine unexpectedly dies. Scared, alone and confused, Kenny--and his fellow Washington Huskies basketball players--must find the will to win without Antoine. In response to a wish Kenny makes, Antoine's ghost appears, intent on helping the team. But, even in the afterlife, Antoine loves to show off, and when he breaks ghost tradition by revealing his existence the act piques the interest of a school newspaper reporter (Michael Michele) who desperately needs a big article so he can impress newspaper editors.
   "The 6th Man's" underlying story deals with learning to say goodbye to someone who you really love and who you thought would always be there. As the narrative unfolds, the emotional bond between brothers is both demonstrated and tested. In a nice character-arc payoff, when the natural-born leader of the two, Antoine, goes too far, Kenny is forced to take charge.
   For many of the roles, the filmmakers found it easier to teach real players how to act rather than teach actors how to play ball, and their gamble paid off. To add to the realism, actual sportscasters and college coaches were used. Also, compared to many sports films, "The 6th Man" has a lot more competition scenes, and they are effectively portrayed. Other highlights are the work of Thomas Special Effects and the pantomiming skills displayed by Wayans when he's interacting with the "invisible" Hardison, all combining to create some funny situations with outrageous results. Starring Marlon Wayans, Kadeem Hardison and Michael Michele. Directed by Randall Miller. Written by Christopher Reed and Cynthia Carle. Produced by David Hoberman. A Buena Vista release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for brief language and some innuendos. Running time: 108 min
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