Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Playas Ball Review: An All Black Cast and Good Lessons Not Enough To Drain The Winning Shot

Allen Payne	...	Cedric Tinsley Elise Neal	Elise Neal	...	Summer Twitty Anthony 'Treach' Criss	Anthony 'Treach' Criss	...	Ricardo Perez Chelsi Smith	Chelsi Smith	...	Jill Hamlin Jordana Spiro	Jordana Spiro	...	Tonya Jenkins Anthony C. Hall	Anthony C. Hall	...	Lloyd Harrison Tracey Cherelle Jones	Tracey Cherelle Jones	...	Natasha MC Lyte	MC Lyte	...	Laquinta (as Lana 'MC Lyte' Moorer) Gary 'G. Thang' Johnson	Gary 'G. Thang' Johnson	...	Hakim David Brown	David Brown	...	Mookie Matthew Hatchette	Matthew Hatchette	...	Nick (as Matthew Hatchett) Jackie Long	Jackie Long	...	Georgie Tasha Smith	Tasha Smith	...	Vonda James Ridgley	James Ridgley	...	Another Agency Hack (as Jim Ridgley) Pamella D'Pella	Pamella D'Pella	...	Kennedy

Release date: February 6, 2007 (Digital Release December 8, 2020)
Running time: 98 minutes
Starring: Allen Payne, Elise Neal, Anthony 'Treach' Criss
Written and Directed By: Jennifer Harper

Cedric Tinsel (Allen Payne) is a 27-year-old professional basketball player. He is on a verge of signing a lucrative endorsement contract and proposing to his girlfriend Jill Hamlin (Chelsi Smith).  But as he grapples with his own life and failings, outside forces also come into his life to threaten everything he has worked so hard to accomplish.

Ruth Carson	...	co-producer Carl Craig	...	co-producer Dale Davis	...	executive producer Keven Davis	...	associate producer Kimberly Ogletree	...	producer     Directed by  Jennifer Harper	Writing Credits   Dale Davis	...	(story) and Jennifer Harper	...	(story)   Jennifer Harper	...	(written by)
Playas Ball features an almost all black cast that teaches some good lessons about life and achieving your dreams.  Cedric seems to have everything you could want, and yet he keeps finding ways to mess up his life and relationships.  And although Cedric surrounds himself with some poor influences, there are a few characters that have his best interests at heart, including his publicist Summer (Neal) and his mentor.  These are fun to see and provide some good lessons about what is important in life and what you should avoid to stay out of trouble.  And the film definitely has hip hop superstar influences, from the crazy parties, to the lifestyle, to the great hip hop soundtrack, Playas Ball knew where it wanted to go and what it wanted to emulate.  

However, Playas Ball is a low budget drama comedy and it shows.  Maybe part of this is the fact that it is being released almost 15 years after it originally aired, but the film just feels like an older / low budget movie.  The camera is grainy, there are some strange angles and low quality video, and the acting is hit or miss.  And there are few basketball scenes and the ones that they do show do not feel like the practices of a professional team, but of a good league team.  Some acting is good (particularly Elise Neal as Summer Twitty) but a lot of it feels overdone or like an additional take would have been helpful.  And the writing is hit or miss, with some funny lines but a lot of jokes that are thrown up and brick.  The movie has a fantastic, energetic hip hop soundtrack, but its atmospheric music lays it on thick.  It tries to influence the viewer but it feels like it is compensating for the drama that the movie cannot put on screen.  And although I believe that this film is meant to show empowerment, both of male and female characters, the ideas expressed in here feel dated.  Even the strong female characters that seem independent do ultimately rely on a man.  The movie feels like it might have been progressive when it was made, but those attitudes have since changed.  And there are a lot of female characters (and to be fair, male charactesr as well) that simply feel like eye candy or schemers.  

Playas Ball's all black cast, good lessons, and strong soundtrack should have made it a slam dunk, but its low production values, overly dramatic story, and dated attitudes towards some characters keep it from scoring.

Pass on it.

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Playas Ball is available digitally and on demand December 8, 2020.

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