Above the Rim [1994]

Director: Pollack Jeff, Jeff Pollack
Stars: Bernie Mac, Byron Keith Minns, Duane Martin, Henry Simmons, Marlon Wayans
Genre: Crime, Drama, Sport
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 99 minutes

This rousing basketball drama centers around Tommy "Shep" Sheppard (Leon), a former high school basketball star now haunted by the accidental death of his best friend, and Kyle Watson (Duane Martin), an arrogant high school player in danger of slipping into crime. Though Shep avoids commitment in his life as a security guard, his attraction to Kyle's mother (Tonya Pinkins) draws him out of his protective shell--but Kyle is more interested in mentorship from Shep's gangster brother Birdie (Tupac Shakur). Above the Rim is melodramatic but played with grit and energy by a solid cast, particularly Shakur. Writer-director Jeff Pollack keeps the story moving and gives the characters enough spin to rescue them from being clich├ęs; the result is engaging despite its formulas. Also featuring Bernie Mac and Marlon Wayans. --Bret Fetzer

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