"Love and Basketball" was a success earlier this year in theaters, and, in my opinion, it deserved it. The film, written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood is a positive, well-written and well-acted movie that is both entertaining and sometimes moving. The director is able to easily balance the two sides, and fully develop the characters in this romantic sports film.
The film revolves around neighbors Monica Wright(Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy McCall(Omar Epps). The film starts off with the two as children, and her declaring that she's going to be the first female to make it into the NBA. There is definitely a spark between the two of them, and although things don't really happen right away, as the two grow older (and are now played by the two main leads), they have a really solid chemistry with one another. Moving above and beyond that, these are natural and enjoyable characters that I liked spending this time with. Although the film does go a little bit long at two hours and four minutes, it's a pretty minor complaint.
As the film goes on, we see Quincy having an easier time with sports as he makes his choices on where he wants to play. Monica, on the other hand, has to fight her way through to reach her goals in the sport. The fact that director Gina Prince-Bythewood is a first-time director makes this debut all the more impressive. The film's occasional humor is sweet and smart; the romance between the two is caring and the two actors work great together, and the story in general is well balanced between the two pieces. The romantic side sometimes takes some of the usual steps of the genre and is sometimes predictable, but in this film, these elements feel fresh.
Definitely an entertaining and enjoyable picture, and I look forward to more films from Gina Prince-Bythewood.
VIDEO: New Line doesn't dissapoint again with "Love and Basketball". With the exception of a couple of small problems, the anamorphic transfer they've offered here is top-notch with images that are bright, bold and sharp. Sharpness is exemplary, with a presentation that's constantly smooth and very well-defined. Detail is strong, and clarity is never lacking, even in darker scenes of the film.
The few problems are very minor - there are a couple of very brief, very slight instances of pixelation. The print, though, is in excellent condition with not even a scratch or mark to be found anywhere. A movie this recent should not run into this problem, and thankfully, "Love and Basketball" certainly doesn't. Colors are rich and strong, looking well-saturated and without any problems. Black level is solid and flesh tones are also perfectly accurate and natural. What we usually expect from the studio is repeated here in a transfer that looks great.
SOUND: On the other hand, where the picture quality is excellent, the sound quality is a little bit less than average. Obviously, this is a music and dialogue-driven movie, but the dialogue has a bit of a muffled quality at times, and although I could understand what everyone was saying, sometimes it wasn't as easy as it should be. Music generally sounds very good, but often simply sticks to the front. Surrounds don't really see much use at all during the film, and bass is minor at best. It's an ok film in terms of audio, but there are areas where it could use work.
MENUS:: New Line always produces nice menus and "Love" is no exception, with a a main menu that serves as a nice intro to the movie, with different scenes playing and music in the background. There are also clips between the main and sub-menus.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Gina Prince-Bythewood and actress Sanaa Lathan, and both of them combine their thoughts on a discussion track that's at times funny, informative and insightful and constantly enjoyable to listen to. The two chat about what it was like to work on the film, and what it was like to work with the various actors. There are also quite a few tidbits on how the movie came together, stories from the sets and a few laughs between the two about what's happening in the film. I really enjoyed listening to the viewpoints from the two on the movie and making the film. There are only a few pauses in the commentary track, and I think it's definitely worth a listen.
Commentary: This is a commentary with director Gina Prince-Bythewood and editor Terilyn Shropshire and composer Terence Blanshard. This is a bit of a different commentary in the way that it focuses more on the choices that had to be made during the production of the film, whether it be the way the film was edited, the music behind a scene or the look of the film, and above-all, how best to tell this story. There are some pauses during this commentary track, and the director does most of the talking during this discussion. This track also serves as an isolated score in Dolby Digital 5.1 when the group isn't talking.
Deleted Scenes: There are 7 deleted scenes with optional commentary from the director. A couple of them are enjoyable, but are rightly cut for the issue of time.
Bloopers: A few minutes worth of the cast having fun or goofing up their lines. Not hilarious, but occasionally funny and worth a look.
Audition Tapes: There are 4 audition tapes here, but the really pleasant part is that New Line has given us the option to either watch the audition tape, or watch the actual scene from the movie that the tape is all about.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling: This is a very well-done documentary that features interviews with successful women in various jobs and how they have gotten to the position that they are currently in; they also share their views on women in society and what they have encountered in their environment. 37 minutes.
Animated Storyboards: This area gives you the option to watch storyboards for 4 scenes of the film. The menu also provides easy access to that scene in the film.
Also: Theatrical trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1) and music video.
Final Thoughts: "Love and Basketball" is a well-acted and written film that is definitely worth a look. New Line's DVD is up to their usual "Platinum Series" efforts, with good extras and a pleasing presentation.