Directed by: Preston A. Whitmore II
Starring: Anthony Mackie, Wesley Jonathon, Wayne Brady, Eva Pigford
Crossover isn't just a bad movie; it is painfully bad. It's a movie where you check your watch every five minutes to see exactly how much of your life you have just wasted. It manages to raise itself above other bad movies by failing to even be interesting, and instead decides to wallow in minutiae and cliche-riddled melodrama. Directed by Preston A. Whitmore II (who with a name like that, should be required to dress like Mr. Peanut), a man with a straight-to-video credit and an 11-year-old film called Walking Dead, Crossover would like to think it has something important to say about friendship and the need for happiness over money, but it's too boring and inept to ever make the viewer care.
The plot follows two life-long friends, Tech (Anthony Mackie, Freedomland) and Noah (Wesley Jonathon, who could be considered the poor man's Nick Cannon, Roll Bounce), two kids from different sides of the tracks who share a love of basketball and retail shoe sales. Tech is the ne'er-do-well who is trying to get his GED after spending time in prison for assault, and who makes extra money by playing in underground basketball games. Noah, on the other hand, is the golden boy, who is planning on using his basketball scholarship in order to become a doctor, with no ambitions of ever becoming a professional basketball player.
This wouldn't be a horrible starting point (though it's still not a very good one) if Whitmore didn't decide to throw in every conceivable histrionic chestnut he could think of -- from alcoholism to unexpected pregnancy to the most laughably bad bedside hospital scene ever committed to film. Throw in a touch of domestic abuse, and you've got your movie.
This also brings up the question of who, exactly, did the makers think they were making this movie for? The trailer would have you believe that it's about underground street ball, but there might be 20 minutes of actual basketball in total, and that's a generous estimate. Not that the basketball scenes we do see show any evidence that more would make the movie better, since what is shown becomes very repetitive very quickly.
What the viewer is left with is what feels like a lifetime worth of ridiculousness. For instance, Noah meets his girlfriend Vanessa (the unfortunately named Eva Pigford, who is apparently best known for being on the reality show America's Next Top Model), takes her to meet his grandmother, gets her name tattooed on his arm, gets her pregnant, and gets engaged all within the span of what we are told is a few days. Add to this the fact that the entire film is shot in really cheap-looking digital that makes the movie look like it was made for PBS -- and Crossover manages to be both mentally and physically challenged.
The acting isn't bad, but the performers take themselves way too seriously to ever make the sub-soap opera melodramatics work. Wayne Brady (Roll Bounce) does a respectable job at being a shady former sports agent and pseudo-bad guy, even if comedian Paul Mooney once said on an episode of Chappelle's Show that Brady "makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X."
In the end, Crossover is an utterly disposable, entirely forgettable movie that brings absolutely nothing new to the screen. It also manages to commit the sin of not only being bad, but being tedious as well. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some language.
-- reviewed by Justin Souther