April 25, 1994 -- ``Above the Rim'' tells the story of Kyle, played by Duane Martin, a young inner city black ready to ride his basketball talent out of the ghetto to Georgetown University. He's full of himself and won't listen to anyone. He may lose his opportunity by self-destructive actions.
Another story going on at the same time concerns ``Shep,'' played by Leon, a former basketball star with a tendency to run away from crisis situations. Haunted by tragedy, he seems on the verge of coming out of his shell when he falls in love with Kyle's mother, played by Tonya Pinkins.
Shep's character is perhaps the most interesting in the film, but the best acting job is turned in by Tonya Pinkins as Kyle's mother. She is given a strong character to portray and does a marvelous job with it. She stands up for her son and for Shep as well, but also stands against them when they are wrong.
Unfortunately, the dramatic underpinnings of the story are not strong enough to hold it in place. There isn't enough conflict to sustain the emotional changes that seem to be happening. The character flip-flops seem, as a result, to be arbitrary.
The basketball sequences are entertaining, but get to be a little repetitious after a while. It seems more a show than a game. There is also a very predictable ending. Similar stories have been done better before in films such as ``Blue Chips'' and ``White Men Can't Jump.''
This New Line film was directed by Jeff Pollack, who also co-wrote the script with Barry Michael Cooper. It was photographed by Tom Priestly Jr. and the music is by Marcus Miller. It is classified R for language and violence. Although well-intentioned, this film is a notch below ``Blue Chips.'' It rates a C.
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