Rock the Paint (DVD Review)1 Jun, 2008 By: Pete Croatto
Rated ‘R' for language.
Stars Douglas Smith, Kevin Phillips, Sam Stone, Christopher Innvar, Jas Anderson.
This coming-of-age story stars Smith (“Big Love”) as Josh Sendler, a white basketball star out of Indiana who joins the all-black team at his new high school in Newark, N.J.
Meanwhile, Josh's father (Innvar) is struggling with his wife's death and his new teaching position. Josh's younger brother Tim (Stone), a wannabe rapper, runs with the wrong crowd. Josh does have some positives in his life, primarily his teammate Antwone (Phillips of American Gun), who helps with his game and his adjustment to the city.
These crises propel Rock the Paint but also cause it to unravel. Too much happens far too quickly that the movie loses dramatic credibility. Two examples: Josh goes from being an overmatched scrub to the teenage version of Larry Bird in no time flat, while young Tim's evolution into a street thug is comical and jarring considering the movie's gritty depiction of street life.
Those looking for salvation in the basketball scenes should rent White Men Can't Jump or Blue Chips. When debut director Phil Bertelson doesn't favor quick cuts or medium shots, Smith looks uncomfortable and awkward handling the basketball, a description not usually associated with basketball stars.
Viewers won't be left empty-handed as Smith and Phillips deliver solid performances (away from the hardwood, of course) as two young men from different backgrounds who try to connect over the sport they love.