Picks and Pans Review: Love & Basketball

updated 05/01/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/01/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Omar Epps, Sanaa Lathan, Alfre Woodard, Debbi Morgan

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Swish! That's the sound of director-writer Gina Prince-Bythewood scoring with her spirited debut film celebrating—you guessed it—love and basketball. In tracking the athletic and romantic progress of both its ball-playing heroine (Lathan) and the cute boy next door (Epps), Love & Basketball briskly and with humor covers much ground about sports and competitiveness, mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons.

The romantic drama starts out with its two primary hoop dreamers as gangly 11-year-olds living in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in L.A. and longing to play professionally. Soon they are longing for each other as well. By the time they reach college and in the years that follow, Lathan and Epps each must decide just which means more, romance or round ball. Lathan (The Best Man) and Epps (The Wood) perform winningly both on the court and off, and Love benefits greatly from a sterling supporting cast. (Note to parents: A couple of frisky sex scenes may put the movie out of bounds for aspiring athletes under 13.) (PG-13)

Bottom Line: Close to a slam dunk

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