Sunset Park (film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve Gomer|
|Produced by||Danny DeVito|
|Written by||Seth Zvi Rosenfeld|
|Music by||Miles Goodman|
|Edited by||Arthur Coburn|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|April 26, 1996|
Sunset Park is a 1996 basketball film directed by Steve Gomer, based upon a screenplay by Seth Zvi and Kathleen McGhee-Anderson and starring Rhea Perlman as the head coach of a high school boys' basketball team from the Sunset Park neighborhood in New York City. The film also stars rapper Fredro Starr and features an early film appearance from Terrence Howard. It was produced by Perlman's husband, Danny DeVito.
With elements of both drama and comedy, Sunset Park was released in April 1996 and went on to gross about $10 million at the box office. It didn't garner much attention from award ceremonies and was not nominated for any major movie award. The film received an R rating due to adult language and situations, drug use, and violence.
Phyllis Saroka (Perlman) is a P.E. teacher at a school in New York City, who reads a flyer at her school that Sunset Park High School is looking for a new boys basketball coach. Looking for more money to pursue opening a restaurant on St. Croix, Virgin Islands, she decides to give the job a shot despite knowing nothing of basketball. She contacts the correct people and is given the job.
She shows up for her first day on the job and the team is already skeptical of her. When she walks in, one player is heard saying "I know we gon' lose every game." She then lets the players run the team, calling their own fouls, running their own plays, and basically allowing them to be carefree. During a game, she makes some bad decisions which irks some of the players on the team. This inspires her to learn more about the game with the assistance of her players. They help her and the team begins to slowly find success.
The team also has to deal with outside forces that threaten the team. Tyrik "Shorty Doo-Wop" Russell (Starr) is on probation and eventually gets into more trouble. Spaceman (Howard) is also on probation, is constantly using drugs, and has trouble with a teacher. Busy-bee (De'aundre Bonds) is shot during the season and misses several games. Several other players are having academic trouble and some don't even get along with each other. The team members also find out that the coach only plans to stay with them one season and then leave to open a restaurant.
The team eventually comes together despite their differences and troubles. They end up with very successful season, and get into the city championship. They go to Madison Square Garden to face their opponent and lose by a small margin. Afterward, the coach informs them that they should be proud of themselves and that she will return next season.
Phyllis Saroka (Rhea Perlman): A physical education coach who takes a job coaching boys basketball at Sunset Park. First, she takes the job to earn extra money for a year to open a restaurant but begins to become close to the team and eventually helps make them successful. She informs the team she will return next season after the city championships.
Tariq "Shorty Doo-Wop" Russell (Fredro Starr): The leader of the Sunset Park team. He becomes the closest to the new coach and helps her out the most. He turns on her once he finds out about her restaurant plan but comes back and lead the team.
Drano (Antwon Tanner): Drano is a guard who at first is scared to shoot the ball despite having good shooting skills. He is eventually given the confidence to shoot more and becomes a long-range threat for the team. He is also seen as the smart guy of the team because of his excellent school work. He is actually seen tutoring other team members.
Spaceman (Terrence Howard): A care-free and quiet member of the team. He eventually becomes a key component of the team on the inside. He has conflict with a teacher and Shorty as the film progresses.
Mona (Carol Kane): Phyllis's best friend. She supports all of Phyllis's decisions and brags about her achievements to others.
Barbara (Camille Saviola): A friend of Phyllis, a lawyer. At Phyllis's request, she defends Shorty when he gets into legal trouble. She gets very angry when she finds out Shorty actually committed the crime he was accused of and she got him off the charges.
Busy-Bee (De'aundre Bonds): An undersized player, he is very supportive of the team and his teammates. He yearns to play but does not get very many chances to do so. He is shot while somebody tries to steal his coat. When he returns, he is given the chance to play and becomes successful.
Butter (Talent Harris): The main post player on the team. He is a ladies man and is constantly bragging about how many women he has and has had in the past.
Boo Man (Guy Torry): A comedic character in the crowd during Sunset Park's games. He is constantly making fun of the players, their game, and the coach. Later in the film, however, he becomes more positive and supportive of the team.
Mr. Santiago (John Vargas): The principal that acts as a minor antagonist to both the coach and the players.
The film has a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Holden, Stephen (1996-04-26). "FILM REVIEW;How an Unlikely Coach Inspires Her Basketball Team". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-01.