Blue Chips

The problem with this film’s earnest script about corruption in college basketball is that the usually witty Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, White Men Can’t Jump) wrote it long before he developed his familiar jivey style. Not even an unsentimental basketball fan like director William Friedkin can wash away all the corn syrup. The plot concerns a dedicated coach (Nick Nolte) whose declining power to attract blue chips to his team drives him to allow a wealthy alumnus (J.T. Walsh) to resort to bribery. Just about the only novelty in what transpires is Friedkin’s use of real basketball players in the cast; the abortive love story between the coach and a grammar-school teacher (Mary McDonnell)potentially one of Shelton’s sassy neo-Hawksian heroinesis strictly half-baked. With Ed O’Neill, Alfre Woodard, and basketball player Shaquille O’Neal (who projects a lot of charm). (JR)

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