Blerd Film Club: Love and Basketball

Basketball isn't really the sport of love. I don't think love is the first thing that comes to mind when any sport is mentioned. Despite that the year 2000 film Love and Basketball aimed to change that. Even if only for a few hours. The film stars Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan. Both are well known now, but even 20 years ago, at they still had extensive filmographies that have only grown in the years since.

The film centers around Quincy and Monica. The two are next door neighbors and both have a love of basketball. Quincy is mostly shocked that a girl likes basketball as much as he does or can play as well as he can. Quincy gets mad during a game and pushes her down leaving a scar on her face. After school the next day, they kiss and then fight, because that's what kids do.

Fast forward and the two are in high school, captains of their respective teams. Quincy has scouts coming to see him every game. Monica, has driven away scouts as she's aggressive on the court and draws constant technical fouls. Additionally Quincy has moved on and is surrounded by women all the time. Monica is angry about this but doesn't know how to deal with it. Monica's mother tells her she needs to act like a lady and wear more dresses. Monica learns to control her emotions and leads the team to the championship, but loses.

Monica's sister gives her a make over for the prom and a date. Monica goes to the prom and is instantly approached by Quincy. The two spend the entire interaction talking about the other's date. Both jealous and not sure how to say it. They split apart after that. However that night he goes to her bedroom window. They talk about their dates being terrible. Monica has Quincy open her USC letter and announce she was accepted. Quincy reveals he was accepted to USC as well. Quincy goes for a hug, but Monica goes for a kiss. The two have sex and we fast forward again.

This time we're dealing with their freshmen year of college. Quincy is a star on the court but isn't able to handle the media attention, or even greater attention from women. This obviously makes Monica angry. Additionally Quincy's father, a former NBA star, has been sued by a woman claiming he is the father of her child. Quincy feels like his father betrayed the family and threatens to go to the NBA early instead of finishing college. Monica feuds with her coach who only sees her as a backup and too arrogant on the court for someone who doesn't play enough defense. Quincy is angry that Monica wasn't there to help him deal with his family drama and she's upset he's still sleeping around. The two break up.

Fast forward again and Monica joins the IWBA because the WNBA has not been created yet. Quincy steps into the NBA early and becomes a star right away. Monica isn't sure she loves basketball the same way anymore. In Barcelona she doesn't have her family and friends anymore. She's now a celebrity and leads a dominating team. Meanwhile on year 5 of the Lakers, Monica's team, Quincy tears his ACL.

Monica flies home to check on Quincy, realizing she still cares about him. At the hospital his parents are feuding and his new fiance is there. Monica also feuds with her mother again. Her mother says Monica never accepted the sacrifices she made. Monica points out there her mother never showed her any love and constantly pushed her to change, dress different, stop playing basketball or being a tom boy.

Monica quits basketball and goes to work at a bank with her father. Despite his wedding day growing close, Quincy hears this and is upset. He doesn't understand why she would give up what she worked for her whole life. He doesn't get how she can just move on. He doesn't want to be friends with someone who can give up so easily. Monica's mother finally understands her and tell her she needs to fight for her dreams and her man.

With Quincy back on his feet, Monica challenges him to a game of basketball. He asks what they're playing for since she doesn't love the game anymore. She states they're playing for her heart. She knows, even with the injury, the only way she can be Quincy is if he lets her. If she wins, he'll call off the wedding and if Quincy wins she'll walk out of his life forever.

Monica takes the lead as Quincy plays no defense. She gets confident thinking he's just going to let her win. Quincy then scores 4 back to back points in a game of five. She goes for a layup at the end and is blocked. Quincy dunks on her and it's game. She's crushed but he responds "double or nothing," and the two hug. Fast forward another five years and Quincy sits in the stands of a WNBA game, now a two year old establishment. Quincy and a baby girl cheer on Monica who's jersey reveals that the two of them got married.

On the surface, the plot of this film seems dumb and flimsy at best. But, Gina Prince-Bythwood, the writer and director did a great job. It's a two hour movie with a lot of time jumps. But it does a good job of getting their emotions across in segments. That isn't taking away credit from Lathan or Epps either as they're both great actors. They're playing the same characters throughout the film, but they're playing these characters at different points through 14 years.

The film didn't do well in theaters beyond America with 99% of the revenue coming from America. Despite that, it's a great film. Not just for viewers but critics as well. There was praise for the way women's sports were depicted in the film. How Quincy could do something on the court and the scouts would love it but if Monica did the same thing she was too arrogant. The idea that women athletes work just as hard as the men and the men go through just as many emotions as the women was odd to be displayed at the time. It's still odd to be displayed and because of that it can be considered a ground breaking film.

If you don't like love films watch this one, there's enough sports to keep you entertained. On the flip side, if you don't like sports films, watch this one. There's enough drama to keep you entertained for two hours. It's a great film that manages to do a lot of things well and do a lot of things other films don't.

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Blerd Film Club: Love and Basketball Blerd Film Club: Love and Basketball Reviewed by Blerds Online on Thursday, February 14, 2019 Rating: 5

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