FAST BREAK -- Tenley Circle, Laurel Cinema, Wheaton Plaza, Academy, White Flint Mall, Mount Vernon, Roth's Tysons Corner, Annandale, Buckingham, Lincoln, Landover.
A second sports film that doesn't pass sophisticated adult standards but certainly beats the smartsy junk usually offered to young audiences is "Fast Break," a basketball picture. Like "Ice Castles," which was about skatisng,d this kpicture sis sentimental but simple, inoffensive and pleasant.
The unlikely premise is that a Jewish loser from New York is challenged to get together a basketball team that will win a reputation for an unknown Nevada college. He raids the ghetto for black losers: one wanted by the police, another by a mobster, a pool sharpie and a winner of a straight-A average -- an attractive student who qualifies for losership apparently by being a girl.
There is an undistinguished cast of types, none of them going beyond a look of wary defensiveness to any attempt at characterization. Gabriel Kaplan as the coach only just manages to avoid being offensive with his obsession, with a slight suggestion that winning means something symbolic to him. But one can't exactly say there is a moral in this question of whether the losers will beat the big blond western winners.
The fact that illiterates have been accepted into college because of their athletic ability is smoothed over by having one coached in literary cliches to the point where he's able to pass an exam, if only with the special circumstances of being allowed to dribble a ball while attempting to think.
Maybe the one wise statement in the film, when a player is afraid he may be losing for dthe first time in his life and the coach replies "You don't die from it," is the moral.
Or maybe it doesn't need one, Much of the film is taken up by the basketball game, providing the simple emotion of rooting for an underdog during a close game.