By Catholic News Service
Streetwise and sullen sports drama in which the aspirations of a New York City high school basketball star (newcomer Taylor Takahashi) to gain a college scholarship and eventually join the NBA are hindered by several factors. These include his disrespect for all but one (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) of his fellow players, his consequent refusal to be a team player, his domineering mother’s (Pamelyn Chee) schemes for a quicker payout, her enmity toward his supportive but ineffectual dad (Perry Yung) and the distraction of a burgeoning romance with a classmate (Taylour Paige).
Writer-director Eddie Huang, who also plays the athlete’s sympathetic uncle, provides some insights into Chinese-American culture and his main character’s battle to overcome implicit prejudice can be applauded. But the script romanticizes the premature physicality of the central relationship, treats smoking pot as a routine activity and merely tweaks the conventions of the genre while building up to an old-fashioned climactic showdown with the protagonist’s only worthy rival (rapper Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson).
Drug use, offscreen and possibly underage premarital sexual activity, vulgar banter, at least one profanity, a couple of milder oaths, pervasive rough and much crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.