Film: Team of six just basketball sickness
The Sixth Man
Starring Marlon Wayans and Kadeem Hardison
Directed by Randall Miller
At Famous Players 6, 7:20 and 9:45 p.m.
There is a fine line between March Madness and March stupidity. A line The Sixth Man, a new basketball pseudo-comedy, lands on the wrong side of. But credit writers Christopher Reed and Cynthia Carle and the people at Disney for at least getting the timing right. The Sixth Man reared its ugly head just in time for the biggest weekend in U.S. college basketball. It's just too bad The Sixth Man is such a poor display of filmmaking. This is not Hoosiers or Hoop Dreams. It is a roundball nightmare.
The story is pretty simple, not to mention pretty familiar. Kenny (Marlon Wayans) and Antoine Taylor (Kadeem Hardison, TV's A Different World) are basketball-playing brothers, forming a standout combination on the hardwood their entire lives. The films opens with the duo shooting hoops in grade school and quickly moves ahead to the Taylors playing college rock, leading the University of Washington Huskies to their first NCAA tournament appearance in a decade. But just games before the tournament Antoine suffers a heart attack while on the court and dies while being rushed to the hospital. Shades of Boston Celtic great Reggie Lewis.
Without their leader, the Huskies begin a losing slide and Kenny's game, along with his energy and enthusiasm, goes to hell. That is until Antoine returns from the grave as a ghost to help the Huskies reach the Final Four. What ensues is mindless, stupid and boring. Kenny is the only one who can see or hear his brother, so the former walks around like a lunatic, talking and fighting with an invisible man.
On the court, Antoine uses his skills and invisibility to make sure the Huskies win, making Washington shots drop while stopping opposition shots from reaching the basket. Hardly original stuff.
It is not bad enough The Sixth Man had to, for all intents and purposes, borrow its script, but Reed and Carle had to steal the story from another piece of Disney tripe, Angels in the Outfield. What is more, the direction is so commonplace and the acting is so poor, you kind of wish Antoine would have come back to life as a real Husky and helped his team win by maiming the opposition players. Come to think of it, that would have made a much better movie.
The best and most interesting roles in the film are the cameos Fresno State head Jerry Tarkanian and Lute Olson, coach of national champion Arizona. Hardison simply can't shake that Dwayne Wayne image, while the standard love interest, here named R.C. St. John (Michael Michele), is easy on the eyes but brings absolutely nothing to an already drowning story. Wasted is the usually funny David Paymer (City Slickers) as coach Pederson. Marlon Wayans, weakest of the Wayans brothers, has occasionally done some funny work himself (Mo' Money), but here is not worth a chuckle.
And that goes for The Sixth Man as a whole. I got the impression this film is supposed to be comedy, the problem is it is just not funny. Not even slightly humourous.
You would probably guess the Huskies, who in reality could not make it to the Final Four if they had 10 men on the court, wind up winning the tournament. But the truth is I could not tell you either way since I did not stay to find out. I have only walked out on one other movie, as a fan or as a critic, and that was because I felt like throwing up. Come to think of it, the air ball that is The Sixth Man gave a similar sensation.