(director/writer: Martin Guigui; cinematographer: Massimo Zeri; editor: Eric Potter; music: Jeff Cardoni/Martin Guigui; cast: Everett Osborne (Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton), Kevin Pollak (Abe Saperstein), Jeremy Piven (Joe Lapchick), Cary Elwes (Ned Irish), Richard Dreyfuss (Maurice Podoloff), Emmaline (Jeanne Staples), Jim Caviezel (Sports Writer), Eric Roberts (Judd), Robert Ri’chard (Pop), Dave Cobert (Dick McGuire), Liam Risinger (Richard); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Josie W. Konski/Tim Moore/Dahlia Waingort Guigui/Darren Moorman; Briarcliff Entertainment; 2023)
“Because of the weak script the historical sports drama about breaking the racial barrier in pro basketball had no scoring power.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Martin Guigui (“Paradise Cove”/”The Unhealer “) is writer-director of this ragged basketball biopic on Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton, who in 1950 became the first Black player in the NBA when he came over from the Harlem Globetrotters to the N.Y. Knicks. His nickname was because of his love for sugary beverages.
Because of the weak script the historical sports drama about breaking the racial barrier in pro basketball had no scoring power, its visuals were dull, its recreations of basketball games was a joke and its storytelling superficial.
I was in high school when the future Hall of Famer Sweetwater played for the Knicks, and I sat in the G.O. High School nose-bleed upper-deck seats in the old MSG where I cheered for the team’s stars Carl Braun, Dick McGuire (Dave Colbert) and rebounding whiz Harry ‘The Horse’ Gallatin. I recall Sweetwater as a decent player with exceptional passing skills on solid Knick teams.
This film offered nothing new or exciting or any insights into that era’s racism or letting us know the main character with any depth. It was a losing effort like the Knicks were the last twenty years excluding this year.
REVIEWED ON 5/17/2023 GRADE: C+