16 June 2014 | vchimpanzee
Not quite "Friday Night Lights" but quite good, and with basketball
In Riverton, Indiana, Matt is a high school basketball star. At the start of the movie, his best friend Gar is driving him to the game in a clunker station wagon complete with fake wood paneling. And they're late. The coach won't bend the rules, so Matt doesn't get to play, until the crowd makes it clear they're not happy. And the Giants' long winning streak might have been broken if the coach hadn't given in.
And the team is soon on their way to a state championship. Meanwhile, Gar is falling for Bridge, a pretty reporter for the school paper who doesn't understand basketball's appeal.
Matt's brother Keith is out of prison. Their abusive father makes it very clear Keith is a disappointment to him, and he's not quite satisfied with Matt, either, despite Matt's star status. But Keith has plans. Those plans could get him sent back to prison, but it doesn't matter. Keith doesn't care.
And Matt wants to support his brother, who convinces him his actions are like those of Robin Hood. No one will get hurt and the only victim will be a drug dealer. Matt drags Gar along.
But things don't go as planned, and someone starts taunting Matt, reminding him, though not in these exact words, "I know what you did." And the taunts become more than that. Matt could be in danger.
Will this affect Matt's play? Will his team win the state championship?
This isn't exactly "Friday Night Lights" of basketball, but the town does seem to have a similar attitude. We do hear commentary about the team on the radio, and the whole town really cares about this team. Of course, a lot of the movie concerns Matt and Gar and their troubles.
This movie is a mix of styles. The first half isn't action and suspense, but the second half certainly provides plenty of both, and I'm not just talking about basketball. There is lots of excitement and one of the final scenes just had me on the edge of my seat.
And while it isn't a comedy, there is comedy here. One of Ryan Merriman's best scenes shows his lack of singing talent while he "auditions" for the school musical.
Haley Joel Osment used to be one of the best actors anywhere in his age group. He doesn't quite show that talent here, but toward the end you can see reminders that he was once one of the greats. At the beginning he is more cat-like. That is what that word meant, right?
Danielle Panabaker is also quite good. I remember her from back in the days when she was a cute little girl being bullied by Hayden Panetierre. How far she has come.
I won't give away the name of the bad guy who harasses Matt and Gar but it's just as well since I don't remember his name anyway. All you need to know he is really intimidating and very talented.
And Kenneth Mitchell is really good at being bad.
Where there is basketball there are also cheerleaders. The Giants have some pretty and talented cheerleaders, including girls who get thrown up in the air. And we get to see them (or at least some of them, since I'm not sure whether this is them or gym class) in the locker room, in underwear or towels.
The sports announcers, whose names I didn't see in the credits, definitely deserve mention. They are as professional as if they were calling a real game.
And, unfortunately, we get a brief glimpse at the great Dick Vitale along with Jay Bilas.
The music, for lack of a better word, seems targeted at kids in high school, which is logical. Still, the young stars like a couple of songs from when rock sounded good (did I say that? I don't even like rock music).
I didn't know part of this movie was filmed in North Carolina until I saw the credits, but certain things told me this was North Carolina, even though it was supposed to be Indiana. But right now I don't remember what those were.
It's a worthwhile effort.