Maxwell 12 April Warning: Spoilers You don't have to be a fan of basketball to enjoy this feel-good, humorous, dramatic, and lively story of two very good players, Wesley Snipes as Sidney and Woody Harrelson, and their women, Rosie Perez and Tyra Ferrell.
What lingo on the courts! What scurrilous insults are hurled back and forth with no one blinking an eye, what elegant contumely -- "Chump! Snipes, who is black, is a terrific action figure and his insults approach the rococo. Woody Harrelson, who is white, is not quite in the same acting league but manages to carry the part of Snipes' partner in the hustling game quite well. We don't get to see much of Snipes' wife, Tyra Ferrell, who wants nothing more than for her man to get a steady and sufficiently rewarding job to get them out of Vista Vue Apartments, where "there is no vista and there is no view and there sure as hell is no view of no vista.
He squirts the money away, as usual. The game of basketball, although it takes up considerable film space, is really not much more than a tool that allows the film makers to explore the relationship between a white guy and an African-American guy, neither of whom is more than usually predisposed towards racial harmony.
There's an entertaining comic argument about whether Harrelson, who enjoys listening to Jimi Hendrix on the tape deck of his dilapidated car "a classic" can really HEAR Hendrix. It's not enough just to LIKE him. Snipes is nonplussed to learn that Hendrix's drummer was a white guy. The movie is a fantasy.
The likelihood of these two oddly matched hustlers making scads of dough on the courts of Watts, and walking away with their body parts intact, never mind the money, isn't particularly high. Three of the characters -- Snipes, Harrelson, and Perez -- are extraordinarily bright and articulate within the limits of their conventions.
Perez wins more than ten thousand dollars on "Jeopardy. Except for the insults, race doesn't enter into the story at all. Harrelson might as well be black himself. He not only talks the talk, he dribbles the dribble. The whole issue of white racism and black solidarity is swept under the rug. That's not to denigrate the movie. It's a lot of fun. The air on the courts is foggy with the most gut-churning calumny. It becomes poetic at times.
And the movie never turns sentimental. There are no important speeches on how we all have to live together -- men and women, as well as black and white. Thank God for small favors. The friendship that develops between Snipes and Harrelson never turns "warm. And the movie ends on exactly that kind of note. Was this review helpful?