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Laramie Movie Scope:
Above the Rim

Mediocre basketball soap opera

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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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.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)