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When young Monica Wright (Kyla Pratt/Sanaa Lathan) moves next door to Quincy McCall (Glenndon Chatman/Omar Epps), son of NBA star Zeke McCall (Dennis Haysbert), she never suspects their first meeting will leave a mark on her life forever. Determined to show Quincy that girls really can play basketball, she gets her face planted in the ground before the end of the first quarter.
But basketball is not eleven-year-old Qunicy's only talent. The budding womanizer manages to get a kiss out of Monica before the bandages are even off. By the time he's in high school, virtually every female student (except for the one living next door) is vying for his affection. His mother (Debbi Morgan), worried these girls will take advantage of his financial affluence, pleads with him to control his sexual pursuits, and his dad begs him to make education a greater priority.
While Quincy likes basketball, Monica lives it. Determined to be the first woman in the NBA, she plays the sport like a lion hunts food, ignoring her mother's (Alfre Woodard) determination to make her into a lady. As the end of the season approaches, Monica becomes ever more driven, aware of the college basketball scouts eyeing her every move.
Then one fateful night Monica puts her Nikes away to accept a date arranged by her older sister Lena (Regina Hall), and attracts an unexpected opponent--Quincy. With her defenses down, the years of casual acquaintance burst into a night of romance providing Monica her first sexual experience and redefining the relationship between them. Now she is faced with a new dilemma: choosing between her man and the game.
Although the ending is contrived, first-time writer/director Gina Prince manages to create well-rounded characters, including thoughtful parents. Rare qualities indeed compared to the many trite and shallow teen dramas recently brought to the screen.
However, parents should be warned that this film contains many fouls. Language is often frank with mild to moderate profanities, sexual terms are used throughout, and a sexual expletive is used once. You could also argue that Monica is foolish to engage in sex with Quincy, especially considering his lack of concern with morals (although this politically correct movie makes an obvious point of letting us know they use a condom during the nearly nude scene). Later, a game of strip basketball provides us with a rear view of Quincy.
Although I can't recommend it for family viewing, if parents have older teens interested in this film, they should preview it first and decide if the heartwarming and interesting moments developed through Quincy's dad and Monica's mother, warrant using this film to start some valuable discussions. Otherwise, without parental guidance, it may just be another film that teaches teens that sexual relationships prior to marriage are of no significant consequence.
Love And Basketball (2000) is rated PG-13: for sexuality and language
Cast: Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan