Best and Worst Basketball Movies

If you’re still amazed that one of the most beloved basketball movies of all time involved Looney Tunes helping to keep Michael Jordan from being imprisoned as an interplanetary sideshow attraction, you forget that basketball’s commercial movie breakthrough came in the form of the howlin’ 1980s Michael J. Fox fantasy Teen Wolf. Or that the Air Bud cinematic universe started with the Golden Retriever shooting hoops and marking his territory at the top of they key. Movies like Semi-Pro, Uncle Drew, and White Men Can’t Jump only further traveled this comedy route.

But after basketball movies exploded onto the scene in the ’80s, the sport also just as quickly got its first classic. One year after Teen Wolf, the underdog drama Hoosiers had audiences everywhere leaping up and cheering for a town no one’s ever heard of somewhere in Indiana. More Certified Fresh basketball hall-of-famers include Gina Prince-Bythewood’s directorial debut Love and Basketball, the Denzel Washington and Spike Lee joint He Got Game, and two of the best sports docs out there: Hoop Dreams and The Heart of the Game.

Now witness all the slam dunks — and a few air balls — as we line up the best and worst basketball movies, each with at least 20 critics reviews, and rank them by Tomatometer!

#39

Crossover (2006)
2%

#39
Adjusted Score: 3177%
Critics Consensus: This heartfelt but incompetent, cliche-ridden sports picture is the cinematic equivalent of an airball.
Synopsis: The lives of a gifted athlete (Wesley Jonathan) and his best friend (Anthony Mackie) change when they take a fateful... [More]

#38

The Cookout (2004)
5%

#38
Adjusted Score: 4932%
Critics Consensus: Good-natured but prepared with an absence of craft, The Cookout is an unappetizing collection of warmed-over jokes.
Synopsis: College basketball player Todd Anderson (Storm P) signs a $30 million deal with the New Jersey Nets and promptly moves... [More]
Directed By: Lance Rivera

#37

Celtic Pride (1996)
8%

#37
Adjusted Score: 7575%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Mike (Daniel Stern) and Jimmy (Dan Aykroyd) are disconsolate after watching their favorite team, the Boston Celtics, lose a game... [More]
Directed By: Tom DeCerchio

#36

Juwanna Mann (2002)
10%

#36
Adjusted Score: 11315%
Critics Consensus: With its tired premise, Juwanna Mann's jokes fall flat.
Synopsis: When pro basketball star Jamal Jeffries (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.) gets booted from the big leagues after an outrageous on-court... [More]
Directed By: Jesse Vaughan

#35

Rebound (2005)
14%

#35
Adjusted Score: 17391%
Critics Consensus: Rebound ought to entertain its target audience, but there's nothing here for those who've seen The Bad News Bears or its countless derivatives.
Synopsis: Roy McCormick (Martin Lawrence) is a college basketball coach more famous for his temper than for his coaching ability. After... [More]
Directed By: Steve Carr

#34

Eddie (1996)
17%

#34
Adjusted Score: 17471%
Critics Consensus: Whoopi Goldberg may demonstrate that she can coach a basketball team with the best of them, but not even she can whip this dreary script into shape.
Synopsis: Chauffeur Edwina "Eddie" Franklin (Whoopi Goldberg) is fanatical about the New York Knicks basketball team. After she wins a contest... [More]
Directed By: Steve Rash

#33

My Giant (1998)
19%

#33
Adjusted Score: 18644%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Billy Crystal stars as Sammy, an agitated agent lost in the forest of the modern world, who happens upon a... [More]
Directed By: Michael Lehmann

#32

The Air Up There (1994)
21%

#32
Adjusted Score: 21912%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An American basketball coach (Kevin Bacon) learns how to play the Kenya way as he scouts a tall African (Charles... [More]
Directed By: Paul Michael Glaser

#31

Semi-Pro (2008)
22%

#31
Adjusted Score: 28584%
Critics Consensus: Semi-Pro is an intermittently funny, half-hearted attempt at sports satire, and one of Will Ferrell's weaker cinematic efforts.
Synopsis: In 1976, singer Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell) uses the profits from his only hit single to fulfill a longtime dream... [More]
Directed By: Kent Alterman

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 37009%
Critics Consensus: Despite LeBron James' best efforts to make a winning team out of the Tune Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy trades the zany, meta humor of its predecessor for a shameless, tired exercise in IP-driven branding.
Synopsis: When LeBron James and his young son Dom are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must... [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

#29

The Hot Flashes (2013)
36%

#29
Adjusted Score: 36159%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A team of middle-aged Texas women, all former high-school basketball champions, challenges the current team of state champions to a... [More]
Directed By: Susan Seidelman

#28

Wolves (2016)
36%

#28
Adjusted Score: 36249%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Anthony is a standout player on his Manhattan high school's basketball team with seemingly everything going for him: a killer... [More]
Directed By: Bart Freundlich

#27

Blue Chips (1994)
37%

#27
Adjusted Score: 37229%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Pete Bell (Nick Nolte) is a college basketball coach who has to improve his team's standing -- by any means... [More]
Directed By: William Friedkin

#26

Teen Wolf (1985)
42%

#26
Adjusted Score: 44005%
Critics Consensus: Though Michael J. Fox is as charismatic as ever, Teen Wolf's coming-of-age themes can't help but feel a little stale and formulaic.
Synopsis: When high school nerd Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) learns from his father, Harold (James Hampton), that being a werewolf... [More]
Directed By: Rod Daniel

#25

Space Jam (1996)
44%

#25
Adjusted Score: 48019%
Critics Consensus: While it's no slam dunk, Space Jam's silly, Looney Toons-laden slapstick and vivid animation will leave younger viewers satisfied -- though accompanying adults may be more annoyed than entertained.
Synopsis: Swackhammer (Danny DeVito), an evil alien theme park owner, needs a new attraction at Moron Mountain. When his gang, the... [More]
Directed By: Joe Pytka

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 46978%
Critics Consensus: In spite of its young leading man's heroic efforts to hold it all together, a muddled message prevents The Basketball Diaries from compelling as a cautionary tale.
Synopsis: Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) is consumed by his life as a high school basketball star. Pressured by a wicked coach... [More]
Directed By: Scott Kalvert

#23

Air Bud (1997)
45%

#23
Adjusted Score: 45552%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Diffident in the wake of his father's death, high schooler Josh (Kevin Zegers) struggles to adapt to his new home... [More]
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith

#22

Just Wright (2010)
46%

#22
Adjusted Score: 49941%
Critics Consensus: Well-intentioned but formulaic, Just Wright has winning leads but can't overcome its preponderance of cliches.
Synopsis: Physical therapist Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) lands the dream job of working with basketball superstar Scott McKnight (Common). All goes... [More]
Directed By: Sanaa Hamri

#21

The Mighty Macs (2009)
47%

#21
Adjusted Score: 48321%
Critics Consensus: Its heart is obviously in the right place, but The Mighty Macs is too blandly formulaic to transcend the genre's many clichés.
Synopsis: In 1971, Immaculata College finds a new coach, Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino), to head its women's basketball team. Right from... [More]
Directed By: Tim Chambers

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 49436%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Increasingly estranged from his own daughter, a boozy busboy (Sam Rockwell) gets a shot at redemption when an old friend... [More]
Directed By: James C. Strouse

#19

Glory Road (2006)
55%

#19
Adjusted Score: 61434%
Critics Consensus: As formulaic as sports movies get, this underdog story still triumphs on the strength of its inspiring story.
Synopsis: After being appointed the new coach of the 1966 Texas Miners, Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) decides to build a team... [More]
Directed By: James Gartner

#18

Like Mike (2002)
57%

#18
Adjusted Score: 58828%
Critics Consensus: A pleasant and innocuous diversion for kids, but adults may have trouble sitting through the movie's predictable plotlines and schmaltz.
Synopsis: Fourteen year old, hoops-loving Calvin Cambridge (Lil' Bow Wow) has a dream: to be a famous basketball player -- to... [More]
Directed By: John Schultz

#17

Uncle Drew (2018)
60%

#17
Adjusted Score: 65498%
Critics Consensus: Kyrie Irving's crossover to comedy is amiable enough to score with basketball fans, but Uncle Drew is held back by formulaic plotting and too much product placement.
Synopsis: After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax is... [More]
Directed By: Charles Stone III

#16

O (2001)
64%

#16
Adjusted Score: 67686%
Critics Consensus: Though well-intentioned and serious in its exploration of teen violence, O is an uneven experiment that doesn't quite succeed.
Synopsis: Moving the classic tale of "Othello" onto the basketball courts of a high school, the story focuses on a young... [More]
Directed By: Tim Blake Nelson

#15

Coach Carter (2005)
64%

#15
Adjusted Score: 69191%
Critics Consensus: Even though it's based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it's effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson.
Synopsis: In 1999, Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to his old high school in Richmond, California, to get the basketball... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#14

Linsanity (2013)
65%

#14
Adjusted Score: 65246%
Critics Consensus: Linsanity offers a compelling enough look at its basketball star subject for fans and curious viewers, even if it never really delves below the surface.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Evan Jackson Leong chronicles the rise of basketball star Jeremy Lin, the first man of Chinese/Taiwanese descent to play... [More]
Directed By: Evan Leong

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 66592%
Critics Consensus: This sports bio documentary is given a few fresh angles, including culture clash issues, and the friendship that develops between Yao and his interpreter.
Synopsis: This documentary chronicles Yao Ming's first year of playing in the National Basketball Association. When Ming signs with the Houston... [More]

#12

More Than a Game (2008)
71%

#12
Adjusted Score: 71421%
Critics Consensus: Though the film may not delve as deep as some would prefer, More Than a Game is an inspiring documentary featuring likable youngsters, a positive message, and some exciting in-game footage.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kristopher Belman chronicles the early career of basketball superstar LeBron James. James and four other talented teammates were a... [More]
Directed By: Kristopher Belman

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 78532%
Critics Consensus: Despite the predictability of its plot and its similarity to Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester has an honest, solid feel to it and good rapport between Connery and Brown.
Synopsis: A unique relationship develops between an eccentric, reclusive novelist and a young, amazingly gifted scholar-athlete. After the novelist discovers that... [More]
Directed By: Gus Van Sant

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 78444%
Critics Consensus: White Men Can't Jump provides a fresh take on the sports comedy genre, with a clever script and a charismatic trio of leads.
Synopsis: Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson) is a white basketball hustler who banks on black players underestimating his skills on the court.... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#9

He Got Game (1998)
81%

#9
Adjusted Score: 81647%
Critics Consensus: Though not without its flaws, He Got Game finds Spike Lee near the top of his game, combining trenchant commentary with his signature visuals and a strong performance from Denzel Washington.
Synopsis: Jake Shuttleworth (Denzel Washington) has spent the last six years in prison after accidentally killing his wife during a violent... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#8

Quantum Hoops (2007)
81%

#8
Adjusted Score: 80687%
Critics Consensus: Dry and upbeat, this story of overachieving academics struggling as underdog athletes is a winner (even if their basketball team isn't).
Synopsis: The men's basketball team at Caltech attempts to break a 21-year losing streak in the final game.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Rick Greenwald

#7
Adjusted Score: 83673%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Disney comedy about a professor who invents a revolutionary flying rubber, which he dubs "flubber". Not only does the professor's... [More]
Directed By: Robert Stevenson

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 88760%
Critics Consensus: Confident directing and acting deliver an insightful look at young athletes.
Synopsis: Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) are two childhood friends who both aspire to be professional basketball players. Quincy,... [More]
Directed By: Gina Prince

#5

The Way Back (2020)
84%

#5
Adjusted Score: 98307%
Critics Consensus: The Way Back's occasionally frustrating treatment of a formulaic story is often outweighed by Ben Affleck's outstanding work in the central role.
Synopsis: Jack Cunningham was a high school basketball superstar who suddenly walked away from the game for unknown reasons. Years later,... [More]
Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 90890%
Critics Consensus: This group of high school girls and their eccentric basketball coach easily win your heart with their unusual humanity and dynamism.
Synopsis: Filmed over a period of seven years, director Ward Serrill profiles Bill Resler, a university professor who coaches a basketball... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Ward Serrill

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 87565%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The story of Lithuania's 1992 Olympic basketball team whose athletes won the bronze medal.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Marius A. Markevicius

#2

Hoosiers (1986)
91%

#2
Adjusted Score: 95011%
Critics Consensus: It may adhere to the sports underdog formula, but Hoosiers has been made with such loving craft, and features such excellent performances, that it's hard to resist.
Synopsis: Failed college coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to direct the basketball... [More]
Directed By: David Anspaugh

#1

Hoop Dreams (1994)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 101576%
Critics Consensus: One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams is a rich, complex, heartbreaking, and ultimately deeply rewarding film that uses high school hoops as a jumping-off point to explore issues of race, class, and education in modern America.
Synopsis: Every school day, African-American teenagers William Gates and Arthur Agee travel 90 minutes each way from inner-city Chicago to St.... [More]
Directed By: Steve James

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