Despite his prodigious talents on the basketball court, Noah Cruise dreams of bigger things than playing professionally: He wants an education so he can someday become a doctor.
In the minds of everyone around him in his Detroit neighborhood, that makes him crazy for passing up the chance of a lifetime—and the instant money and fame that could follow. Everyone, that is, except best friend Tech, who's stuck playing quick-cash streetball for a smooth-talking entrepreneur-cum-bookie named Vaughn.
Tech is genuinely excited when Cruise gets offered a free ride to a California university. And after traveling to Los Angeles with him, along with their new girlfriends, it appears that the foursome all have a new lease on life. But when Vaughn becomes a threat to Cruise's scholarship status, and Tech is forced to face his inadequacy, things get a bit thorny. Add in a dark secret from the past, and the future may not be so bright for this b-balling duo.
Throughout their journey, Cruise and Tech look out for each other and voice their appreciation for that. Each selflessly wants the best for the other, and they also show a willingness to forgive misunderstandings and put the other first. Tech acts responsibly in his own house, offering to cover for his mother when she can't afford to pay the utility bill.
The importance of education is admirably preached throughout Crossover as fame and money take a backseat to advancing and improving oneself. Cruise rejects several chances to take an easier path, instead bucking what's called "every black boy's dream" in pursuit of his scholastic ambitions. Even when his scholarship is put in jeopardy, he tells Tech, "It's not about the schools, it's about the education."
Upon finding out his girlfriend, Vanessa, may be pregnant, Cruise takes responsibility rather than running. "I don't want to be like other cats out there," he explains, suggesting they get married and "do things the right way." He also offers to get a job, tough it out for the meantime and do whatever it takes to make their situation work.
An out-of-town friend reminds Vaughn that life isn't just about being in the race and running it, it's ultimately about what you're running toward. When several girls have a "tattoo party" and are shown getting permanent inscriptions, Cruise comments, "Ain't nothing that important that I'm willing to have plastered on my body."
A grandmother offers up some desperate cries to God when she discovers her grandson has been in an accident. Vaughn makes a flippant comment about young men praying to God for a way out of street life. Tech says "God bless" to a pair of men he's just conned.
Cruise and Vanessa are shown kissing passionately, as are Tech and Eboni. The former pair strip down to their underwear for a late-night venture in a pool. Short clips also show them making out in their underwear; one instance has Vanessa in backside-baring lingerie. Several women wear cleavage- and midriff-revealing outfits (including bikinis), and the camera zooms in on the ultra-tight mini-shorts and micro tops a group of cheerleaders wear as they do sexualized cheers. Tech is shown walking around his house in only a towel.
A few scenes involve "grinding" at a dance club. A man makes a suggestive comment about acting on his fantasies involving a famous movie star. The movie's conclusion reveals that a player went on to open a strip club.
While riding a motorcycle, a man collides with a car, flips and lands hard on the ground. In a fit of anger, Tech punches a man, trashes a room and roughly grabs Eboni. She later slaps him for making a rude comment. He, in turn, roughs up another girl for her deceptive ways. Vaughn shoves Tech to the ground.
Crude or Profane Language
God's and Jesus' names are misused close to a half-dozen times. The s-word is spoken about that many times, too, along with more than a dozen milder profanities (including "a--," "d--n," "h---" and "b--ch"). The n-word is tossed out once, as are a couple of crude phrases.
Drug and Alcohol Content
A discouraged Tech resorts to the bottle to drown his sorrows. Though he doesn't act drunk, Eboni comments on his excessive drinking, and we see him swigging from beer bottles. The pair are also shown drinking in a club. A couple of minor characters smoke both cigarettes and cigars.
Despite being pregnant, Vanessa drinks a glass of champagne with Vaughn. Tech's mother says her boyfriend was thrown in jail for robbing a liquor store. It's revealed that Cruise once got drunk and hit someone.
Other Negative Elements
Crossover's plot relies on sports betting and game fixing to keep it going. The ringleader behind this illegal activity, Vaughn, justifies paying young hoopsters under-the-table money by saying, "At least I'm giving these kids a chance to do what they love." He accepts bets from a policeman, who insinuates that there's a large group of cops involved in the gambling ring.
Tech cons playground ballers around town into making big bets—while using a younger apprentice to help take their cash. He also places a huge wager on his own game. And though his reason for doing so is admirable—to pay the hospital bills for a friend in need—his means are still just as crooked, even though they're the ones that "win" in the end.
It's hard to slam—pun intended—a sports movie when it tries to preach solid messages in between slow-motion action shots and game-winning buzzer-beaters. Certainly that task becomes easier when a filmmaker tosses in needless sex, alcohol abuse and foul language. (Wayne Brady cussing up a storm? Yeah, that works.) And certainly it's necessary in the case of Crossover because of its out-of-sorts acting, scribbled story line and cliché-ridden dialogue ("What happens on the court stays on the court").
Kudos to indie director Preston A. Whitmore II for writing and directing inner-city characters who ultimately care more about the fundamentals of life than style points. Unfortunately, his follow-through not only lacks form, it also gets twisted up with some mixed messages. By the time the final shot swishes, the only feeling that remains is one of anticipation—for the movie's credits. The communal groan I heard drifting across the audience means I wasn't the only one feeling it, either.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Anthony Mackie as Tech; Wesley Jonathan as Noah Cruise; Wayne Brady as Vaughn; Eva Pigford as Vanessa; Alecia Fears as Ebony; Lil' JJ as Up
Preston A. Whitmore II ( )