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Here comes Queen Latifah (Valentine’s Day, Bringing Down the House) charging down in a full court press of comedy, romance, heartache and hope. She dribbles left and then right see’s the opening and goes in for the dunk….pulls up and hits the easy jumper for two. No need to show off and slam dunk for the audience in her new romantic comedy that has as many ups, as it does downs that you would see in a real basketball game. Assisting her along the way is her point guard Common (Wanted, American Gangsters), her forward Paula Patton (Precious, Mirrors), and coached by Sanaa Hamri (Acceptance, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).
Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) a physical therapist is truly your everyday average woman looking for ‘The One’. All she seems to find are the ones not ready for a relationship or feel she’s just one of the guys, a woman who every guy likes to hang out with but not date and be romantic with. Guess it doesn’t help when you are a true fan of basketball and relate more to men than you do women. Then you have Leslie’s best friend Morgan(Patton) who is just looking to strike it rich and land herself a baller. That’s a basketball player for those scratching their head right now. Enter Scott McKnight (Common), the Nets star franchise player who meets Leslie by chance and after inviting her to his birthday sees Morgan and is struck by the love bug. Leslie knows Morgan inside and out and rolls her eyes at her game. But sometimes love is blind and you don’t see thru what is before you. Until your life takes a turn you did not expect and your future flashes before your eyes as it does for Scott. It’s at times like these you see who truly is your friend and cares about you and who is all talk and show.
This story crafted by Michael Elliot (Brown Sugar, Like Mike) has some wonderful moments of life and how we sometimes do not open our eyes to everything that is around us and choose what is considered the norm. Shooting a film is tough when the subtleties of dialogue get lost due to the actors not being strong or even worse over the top, but with Sanaa’s direction it shows thru not just in the words but in the reactions and physicality of the actors. Queen Latifah is one actor who has had a roller coaster of a career and takes all the knowledge of those years and come out and shows her true potential again. Her physical reactions along with her dialogue not to mention a good background cast brings back that sparkle she has shown before. Stepping up to the challenge is her counterpart Common. The consummate performer does a fun job of playing the ‘star’ player and playing up the whole idea that even though you may make your dream come true you should never let it go to your head. Each time I see him perform or hear his music I become more impressed, one of the few renaissance men today. What about the gold digger portrayer Paula Patton? Paula plays it to a tee. We have all met or know someone like Morgan, looking for the easy way. When she comments by saying, “I’m 30 years and need to look to my future” so serious to not think about getting a job but marrying for it, I saw some women want to jump into the scene and want to smack her. But remember this was a movie. She had the looks to play the part and get what she wants however she had to play the game.
However the team does not stop there. Lets add Pam Grier (Smallville, Jackie Brown) as Leslies mom who loves Leslie but thinks she doesn’t play up the feminine enough to get a man; James Pickens Jr. (Grey’s Anatomy, Ball Don’t Lie) as Leslie’s ever patient dad that loves his girl so much and is the encouragement behind her to do what she wants; Phylicia Rashad (Cosby Show, Loving Jezebel) as Scott’s single parent who like most mom’s is always curious of her son’s judgments. Oh and let us not forget some of the many fun cameos by today’s top NBA players, Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, Rashard Lewis, Rajon Rondo to name a few along with the NETS Owner Rod Thorn.
Now here’s where I put my personal touch on the review. Guys, put down the remote, game control, step away from the computer and take your lady to an evening out to see this movie. It is not your typical romance movie. There are some good action scenes of basketball with some great NBA players throughout the film. Just don’t get lost on the ball playing. In fact if you aren’t dating go and see this movie. It translates for women as much as it does us men. Life is not just what is in front of us but around us. The best person for us to live life with could be right there in front of you. Sometimes life is funny and your paths will cross several times before you see it but when it does you will be filled with pure joy. Leslie knew what her dream was and saw that the one person she knew a lot about just because she followed the game was human and grounded. Granted he was blinded by what was seen first before he saw what it was that he needed is part of life. It took him time to see it even when his mom was skeptical, he looked deep inside and saw what life is truly about. Leslie’s moral is a little different. She was just contempt to blend in. Her dad knew her best, unlike her mom who felt she needed to find a man and be a girly girl. Dad knew when the time is right her ‘One’ will see it and be with her. Leslie stopped living thru someone else’s dreams and made her own. Look forward in life and don’t dwell on the “what if’s”. Learn along the way and do right by people. Step back, push the ball and let it roll off your fingers to the basket, nothing but net.
P.S. 😉 love you