Wayne Brady, Wesley Jonathan, Anthony Mackie, Eva Pigford
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Preston A. Whitmore II
Remember MC Hammer's blink or you'll miss it "gangsta" phase? The one that produced the laughably bad "Pumps and a Bump" or whatever that horrid little song was called? A rapper who had previously rhymed about God's blessing upon his music had suddenly sold out for an extra five minutes of fame.
In "Crossover," we get Wayne Brady, the congenial funny man of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and his own talk show, as a sort of dark overlord of streetball. I'm picturing a cross between Rick Moranis and James Earl Jones...in fact, remember that horrid 70's song "Basketball Jones?" That's exactly what I'm picturing here, and the goofiness of it fits perfectly this stylized mess of a film virtually devoid of anything resembling substance.
Fortunately, "Crossover" doesn't center on Brady's character, but instead focuses on two friends, Noah Cruise (Wesley Jonathan) and Tech (Anthony Mackie). Actually, I should say this WOULD BE fortunate if we could coax decent performances out of either Mackie or Jonathan...unfortunately, their performances could almost out-wooden legendary basketball coach John Wooden.
Now, that's wooden!
Noah, who avoids an assault charge when friend Tech takes the fall, envisions medical school thanks to his basketball scholarship, while Tech is happy with obtaining his GED and becoming an underground streetball legend.
What passes as a plot in "Crossover," is really just writer/director Preston A. Whitmore II's attempt to make "Crossover" palatable to a general audience. Faux moralizing statements about education and empowerment ring hollow when surrounded by the shallow stylings of a streetball world that offers sex, success, money and power.
Supporting performances by the likes of Eva Pigford (winner of "America's Top Model," obviously NOT "America's Top Actress") and Michael Bivens (Think "Bell, BIV, Devoe") are embarrassingly uncomfortable.
"Crossover" might still work as a film if Whitmore could pull off the excitement and electricity that is supposed to differentiate his streetball from just plain ole' basketball. Unfortunately, Whitmore ("The Walking Dead") never quite captures the basics of basketball staging or blocking and the resulting scenes create excitement akin to that of our last Olympic men's basketball team.
"Crossover" isn't trying to be much, but still manages to disappoint. It wasn't unreasonable to hope for a silly, shallow film with exciting basketball, jammin' music and electricity in the air. While the film's soundtrack doesn't disappoint, virtually every other aspect of "Crossover" misses the mark.
"Crossover?" Hmmmm. It more closely resembles "Crossing Over" with John Edward. Unfortunately, not even John Edward could find life in "Crossover," a film destined for a quick cross over to DVD.
U CAN touch this, but really...why would you want to?