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Slam-Dunk Soliloquies

Patient: O

Profile: Mostly excellent adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, this time with the green-eyed monster cast as a high school basketball god, that wavers only when it stops looking at large themes and gets mired in the muck of contemporary American life. Think Othello meets Save the Last Dance meets Finding Forester.

Symptoms: After a summer of Captain Craperilli's Mandolin and Planet of the What the Hell? it's a pleasure to report that what we have here is a patient in need of only minor treatment. This latest bit of Shakesteen is great—the idea of transporting the conquering hero to the high school basketball court is brilliant—especially when it stays on the big themes: jealousy, envy, betrayal and the destructive nature of love. But every now and then, it feels the need to comment on the here and now. There's a five-minute discussion about use of the "N" word that feels perfunctory in placement and Def Comedy-ish in execution. And there's a running bit about drugs that seems tacked on and generally McGruffian.

Diagnosis: Then must you speak of one that loved not wisely but too politically correct.

Script Doctor

Prescription: Stick to the big stuff. Yes, we all know that today's teens are a bunch of gun-toting, redneck, drug-addled sex addicts, but that was all pretty much covered in the Harry Potter books. What you have here is the emotional DNA of the human animal. Jealousy, envy, love—don't dilute the product with something that feels excerpted from a high school sensitivity-training film (Racism Isn't Cool Anymore. Brought to you by your friends at Denny's). Yes, the man is black, and, yes a black man—the only black man—at a white prep school is going to be more susceptible to feeling vulnerable and angry when betrayed. But if you make the point well in the flow of the movie, you don't have to hit us over the head with these three-minute News Breaks. And the drugs. It seems that you're arguing against your very point with that one, if your point is that love is the most destructive power on earth. If that's true—and it is—then bringing drugs into the mix seems like you're trying to soften the blow. When O kills, it should be because of love's betrayal, not because he's buzzed.


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