Crossover is a film that could've brought a great deal of life and energy to the world of competitive streetball, but unfortunately settles for the lowest common denominator in entertainment. Despite having a moderate amount of energy during its streetball sequences, this is a predictably vanilla sports film, giving no new life to the genre, providing no real development to its many characters, and settling for theatrical dialog over the better, more entrancing realistic kind.
We focus on Noah Cruise (Wesley Jonathan), a basketball player, who receives an athletic scholarship to UCLA following the death of his mother. Cruise, however, would prefer using his scholarship to work towards his medical aspirations, but puts up with the deafening screams of demands and orders from people like Vaughn (Wayne Brady), a sports agent desperate to recruit. Cruise takes pride knowing he has close friends like Tech (Anthony Mackie) and Up (Lil' JJ), two that have his back at all times, through thick and thin, even as both him and Tech struggle to please their women, Vanessa (Eva Pigford) and Eboni (Alecia Fears) respectively and work to make a revolutionary basketball trip to Los Angeles count.
As stated, the streetball scenes in the film bear a moderate amount of slickness, part of which is thanks to the editing by Stuart Acher and Anthony Adler, who keep things mostly clean and coherent, and partly because of the crystal-clear cinematography of Christian Sebaldt, who knows how to choreograph and shoot a hectic setting. With that, Crossover's praise comes to a screeching halt. The remainder of the film exists in that sliver of cinema which isn't predicated off of realism nor plausibility, but conveniently-occurring, theatrical circumstances that make for nothing more than a melodramatic bore.
To begin with, for a film about the competitive world of streetball, given writer/director Preston A. Whitmore II's emphasis on eye-rolling drama and overwrought circumstances makes this feel like a daytime soap-opera instead of a compelling drama centered around characters and the sport they play. The drama we get is typical relationship fodder that isn't so much substantive or intriguing for the story's progression, nor is it very compelling to watch in the face of the greater issues at hand. Some of the best scenes come when Cruise and Tech are interacting with one another, as Jonathan and Mackie have made for strong screen presences elsewhere, but here, everything seems to grind and falter when the camera starts rolling after turning away from the prime concept of the film.
This kind of drama wouldn't be so contemptible if it wasn't so overwrought, however. Crossover feels like a very weak Tyler Perry film, in which so many different issues and dramatic elements are piled on characters in such a boring, ho-hum nature that the film loses its humanity. This becomes apparent especially when we see how the dialog caters to the more fabled, "exciting" realms of movie dialog than how people in real life actually communicate. After we're burdened with all this for over an hour, the streetball scenes are a too-little-too-late asset to an already lackluster film, established of nothing more than overwrought melodrama and an occasionally compelling instance in a competitive streetball game. Crossover is a poor endeavor for an already underserved demographic that deserves better than the mistreatment and shallow, human focus they've been provided with here.
Starring: Wesley Jonathan, Anthony Mackie, Lil' JJ, Wayne Brady, Eva Pigford, Alecia Fears, and Philip Champion. Directed by: Preston A. Whitmore II.