Review: ‘Ball Don’t Lie’

Aside from the thrill of watching Grayson ("Professor") Boucher razzle-dazzle a basketball through hoops (a pleasure familiar to fans of ESPN's "Streetball"), Brin Hill's curiously perfunctory filmization of Matt de la Pena's popular novel "Ball Don't Lie" has little to offer, especially when its teen athlete leaves the court.

Aside from the thrill of watching Grayson (“Professor”) Boucher razzle-dazzle a basketball through hoops (a pleasure familiar to fans of ESPN’s “Streetball”), Brin Hill’s curiously perfunctory filmization of Matt de la Pena’s popular novel “Ball Don’t Lie” has little to offer, especially when its teen athlete leaves the court. Handcuffed to a story with no internal development and without the stylistic rigor to transform its jerky stop-and-start rhythm into an aesthetic, the pic jumps from one disconnected scene to another. Theatrical prospects look iffy, but Boucher’s presence could spike ancillary interest.

“Ball” shuttles between an indifferent, 24-hour present and a dramatic, 10-year backstory of foster-child hero Boucher, visually alighting somewhere between documentary and fiction to the detriment of both. Helmer Hill aims for the unpolished grittiness of verite, but achieves neither its immediacy nor unexpectedness. The pic’s considerable thesping support, including Nick Cannon, Ludacris and Melissa Leo, seems somehow diminished, relegated to the grayness of the flashbacks. The sole exception is a luminous Rosanna Arquette, her character granted too little time onscreen and on earth, the absence mourned by hero and viewer alike.

Ball Don't Lie

Production

A Night and Day production in association with Uprock Films. Produced by Michael Roiff, Jeffrey Smith, Brin Hill. Co-producers, Mark G. Mathis, Brigitte Mueller. Directed by Brin Hill. Screenplay, Hill,Matt de la Pena, based on Pena’s novel.

Crew

Camera (color), Matthew Jensen; music, Tony Morales; music supervisor, Otaku. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Discovery), April 28, 2008. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Grayson Boucher, Kim Hildalgo, Rosanna Arquette, Nick Cannon, Melissa Leo, Emilie de Ravin, Chirs "Ludacris" Bridges, Cress Williams.

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