.

Above the Rim

Tupac Shakur

Directed by Jeff Pollack
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
March 23, 1994

It's the Usual Drill for Sports movies: Pit a kid, in this case high-school hoop star Kyle Lee Watson (Duane Martin), against the forces of good and evil. On the side of the angels are Kyle's mom (Tonya Pinkins) and Shep (Leon), a security guard who barely survived a similar trial by fire. Giving the devil his due is Birdie (Tupac Shakur), Shep's drug-dealer brother. Birdie tempts Kyle with women and gifts to lure him into brutal pickup-game tournaments on which Birdie gambles heavily. It's formula stuff, but the dynamite court action set on the streets of Harlem gets the adrenalin pumping.

Co-writer and first-time director Jeff Pollack, one of the co-producers of TV's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, leans heavily on a fierce soundtrack featuring Lord G. SWV and Snoop Doggy Dogg. But the actors are the film's real juice. Martin is a find, letting his emotions rip as Birdie threatens his recruiting chances at Georgetown University. In contrast, Leon (Cool Runnings) reins in Shep's tensions tight enough to snap.

Still, it's Shakur who steals the show. The rapper's offscreen legal problems are well known, but there's no denying his power as an actor. Following a gentle turn in Poetic Justice as Janet Jackson's lover, Shakur creates in Birdie a gleaming portrait of seductive evil. He's as dangerous as the asphalt game that ends Above the Rim with a sustained roar of thunderous hoop action.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Stillness Is the Move”

    Dirty Projectors | 2009

    A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com