By Joanna Langfield

Rocky, but basketball. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Adam Sandler, who has developed into one of his generation’s most impressive actors, stars as a frustrated NBA scout, touring the world in search of the next phenom. When he almost accidentally discovers a remarkable athlete, hustling for money on the street courts of Spain, Stanley literally goes for broke, trying to take the kid and his own career to new heights. Of course there are bumps along the way. Of course Stanley and Bo develop a bond beyond the ball. And, of course, they both wind up…. oh never mind, not going to spoil the fun, even if we pretty much can expect just where we’re going.

Yes, it’s the same basic story we’ve seen in the Rocky movies, Hoosiers, even The Karate Kid and Jerry Maguire. But these movies work. And they work well. Because they get to the heart of what makes people love the game, the passion, the personality, the pulse. Director Jeremiah Zagar keeps the plot and the points short, sweet and moving quickly along. But what made this film work for me, an occasional basketball fan, were three other things: Sandler, co-star Juancho Hernango (a charmer) and the inside baseball (okay, basketball) stuff that’s presented with as much love as if it had been produced by Lebron James. Which it was.

Yes, Sandler is terrific, keeping it very real as a middle aged man betting it all for one last shot at the big time. It’s been a treat watching him grow as an actor and here he gets not to just show his own strength, but that of the others around him. There’s a generosity to his performance that’s palpable and may be part of the reason why Juancho Hernango, an NBA veteran, is so wonderful acting a role that might feel somewhat autobiographical to him. But it’s also a kick to see so many other people who’ve made basketball what it is show up, if even for a second. This, we are told, is an industry that takes care of its own. Kind of like an Adam Sandler production.