(director: Jeremiah Zagar; screenwriters: Will Fetters/Taylor Materne; cinematographer: Zak Mulligan; editors: Tom Costain/Brian M. Robinson; music: Dan Deacon; cast: Adam Sandler (Stanley Sugarman), Ben Foster (Vince Merrick, 76ers owner), Robert Duvall (Rex Merrick, father of the current owner of 76ers), Queen Latifah (Teresa Sugerman), Juancho Hernangómez (Bo Cruz), Kenny Smith ( superagent), María Botto (Paolo Cruz), Jordan Hull (Alex), Ainhoa Pillet (), Raul Castillo (), Jaleel White (Blake (76ers Assist Coach), Heidi Gardner (), Anthony Edwards (Self); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Adam Sandler, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Joe Roth, Zack Roth: Netflix; 2022)
“Double-dribbles its way through fluff.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director Jeremiah Zagar (“We The Animals”/”In a Dream”) grew up in South Philly as a fan of the NBA and directs this predictable cheesy hoops drama. It seems more like a promo for the pro basketball world than anything else (as its fiction story is loaded down with real-life cameos from basketball stars who just appear only to then vanish).
It’s co-produced by the comedian turned serious actor Adam Sandler and the basketball legend LeBron James. It’s written by Will Fetters and Taylor Materne, whose script is formulaic.
The middle-aged Stanley Sugarman (Adam Sandler) is a world-weary, aging and overweight talent scout for the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA, who travels the world looking for basketball talent. He occasionally calls his supportive wife, Teresa (Queen Latifah), from his hotel room, and they say sweet nothings to each other (the film is as dull as Sandler’s regular calls to Latifah).
The team’s longtime old-school owner Rex Merrick (Robert Duvall) relates well to Stanley’s old-school feelings about the game and promotes the scout to be on the bench as an assistant coach. He then promises him a coaching job he covets. But his dick-head son Vince (Ben Foster), gets control of the team and he detests Stanley, sending him on the road. Vince’s only promise is if Stanley discovers a super talent, he’ll consider him for a coaching job.
While scouting in Spain, Stanley comes across a hot prospect, a tough construction worker with a huge wing span and a frame of 6’9″, Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez, Utah Jazz power forward), who is hustling players in pick-up games for money on a street court. Stanley sees Bo as his possible ticket back to the big time, and thereby convinces the kid to come back with him to the US.
It’s a film about NBA stars, with no acting ability and no charisma, playing themselves, and it results in a predictable story with no surprises. It falls short of being a serious “Jerry Maguire” dramedy, as it double-dribbles its way through fluff.
I think Philly fans might boo this hoop film for no other reason than it’s all cheese and no meat.
REVIEWED ON 6/11/2022 GRADE: C+