Above the Rim (1994) Review

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RATING: 2/5

[SPOILERS]

A hot-headed and young basketball player needs the right form of guidance so that he could make it big in college.

While it might sound good, it doesn’t play well.

The best thing that this movie had going for it was the soundtrack. It was really good and it complimented the film’s mood well. In particular the scenes toward the end that involved the basketball scenes. The way the scenes were edited and how songs from Naughty by Nature/2Pac came in, did make one feel the adrenaline and intenseness nicely.

But outside of those couple of songs, the rest of the soundtrack was, again, really good. I liked songs from artists such as Paradise, Tha Dogg Pound, and of course the classic, “Regulate,” from Warren G and the late Nate Dogg.

The last third of the film was the most enjoyable due to the nonsensical and ridiculous basketball games. In that these players would seem to virtually do anything to win. It truly was shown in the final game where players would get bone rushed to the ground, elbowed to the face, kneed to the groin, a couple wrestling moves; I’m surprised they didn’t throw punches. All of this was happening and the ref not doing anything about it. Anything went in the game and it was rather humorous.

In addition, 2Pac had good points when seeing the game officials letting his older brother come in at the last possible second to play. But as I said, anything went.

Characters such as Kyle and Bugaloo had some funny dialogue near the beginning when playing basketball. Late Bernic Mac played a homeless man, he came in to ruin the two’s fun and the trash-talking between them was fun to watch.

As for the rest of the movie, it was very formulaic. It played out as a standard sports drama, but at some points it was even less of that. Things one would expect to see in the genre weren’t present. Which might for some be innovative and original, but in here it felt choppy and lacking. There was no montage of the mentor, Shep, training Kyle.

Not literally speaking, but he said to Kyle in a way that came off as “stop being a jerk.” I’m not sure if it worked or not because there were points in the last third where Kyle would do good and not do good. Whenever he did good, it didn’t come off as believable. There was no good progression with Kyle.

The movie seemed to be confused about what character to focus, Kyle or Shep. Both of these characters weren’t enjoyable. One was full of himself, always complaining, and starting trouble for no reason. The other had a deadpan face for 90% of the time. Giving a bland, dull performance. Kyle had no solid progression and neither did Shep.

Performances across the board were mixed. 2Pac was probably the best, while the Shep character was the weakest. I mean granted this movie did have Bugaloo, played by Marlon Waynes, but at least he delivered energy. Even if it was a tad annoying at times.

I will say the ending was a tragic/uncomfortable reminder of what happened to 2Pac in real life. It’s also crazy that this project had a few who have passed, including the director, Jeff Pollack. RIP to them all.

If one wanted to see this movie, I recommend skipping to the final basketball segments. Before that though, a majority is filled with many sporting drama cliches that were delivered by characters one doesn’t latch onto. The good soundtrack and the humourous entertainment of the last third make it up.

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