- Movie Rating -

Fast Break (1979); ★★1/2

| March 23, 1979

If you saw Gabe Kaplan on television in the title role of “Welcome Back, Kotter,” then you’ve pretty much seen Fast Break, only in this case you’re not laughing.  Kaplan so resembles his television persona here that you might believe that Mr. Kotter had quit his job as a New York high school teacher and take up a position as a college basketball coach.

Fast Break is a basketball comedy that is sometimes serious, sometimes a comedy but never really much beyond transferring its leading man to a big screen.  He plays David Greene, a rabid basketball fan who is given the opportunity to coach for a small Nevada college with a massive payday if he can beat a Nebraska team that is one of the top 10 teams in the country.

But the prospects are grim.  His team is one of those mismatched group of band of misfits who couldn’t find their way to the front door without a map.  There’s Preacher, who is perhaps being sought by some criminal-types.  There’s D.C., a fugitive.  And Swish, the best player and whom the rest of the team doesn’t know is secretly a girl.

A lot of this movie deals with David having to negotiate to get his players on the court or even to get them motivated.  Off-set from that are the head-aches that he endures trying to deal with each player’s particular idiosyncrasy.  Each of the player’s stories is played out like and episode.  David sees the character flaw and tries to work around it, but never do any of these characters come off as a living, breathing human being.  They are like ill-formed Sweathog rejects that are half-written and barely introduced.

The game at the end is fairly exciting.  We know how the thing will turn out but some better human elements might have helped our interest.  But that’s not the point.  The point was to put Kaplan in a movie and sell it to those who love him on television.  For that, you may get what you pay for, but without the talent (or the laugh track) Fast Break is a fairly banal experience.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy
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