Plot: Kenny (Marlon Wayans) is a gifted point guard who knows how to create plays and dictate the pace of a basketball game, but he is overshadowed by his brother Antoine (Kadeem Hardison), the star of the team who benefits from Kenny’s skill in putting the ball where it needs to be. The two always dreamed of a college championship and while their father didn’t live long enough to see it happen, the brothers are convinced this is the year they will win it all. Antoine is red hot and a championship seems possible, but in the heat of a game, he suffers a heart condition and soon after, he is dead and Kenny is beyond devastated. The team pushes on, but without Kenny’s heart in the game, a series of losses follows. But when a strange series of events takes place that seems to have a supernatural flair, has Antoine returned to help Kenny and his team one last time, or is Kenny having a mental breakdown?
Entertainment Value: An odd mix of absurd humor and sentiment, The Sixth Man is an inconsistent movie, but it has charm and delivers some laughs. The narrative is beyond silly, as a ghost helps a basketball team and does so in obvious, over the top ways, as if no one would notice. But if you watch a movie about a basketball ghost, odds are you don’t mind some ridiculous touches, I know I don’t. I think the movie works best in those kind of over the top moments, as the humor is there and the silly nature of the story yields some entertainment. When The Sixth Man tries to be serious or add some emotional beats however, it stalls on the spot. The blame can be divided between Marlon Wayans’ lack of dramatic skills and the script, which is thin to say the least and would have been better off focused on the comedic aspects. The absurd elements could alienate some viewers as well, as the ghostly involvement is ludicrous even by slapstick standards, but I still think that is part of the film’s main draw. The Sixth Man is no comedy classic, but it does have some laughs at times.
The cast here is fine, though no one stands out as great and in truth, the material isn’t polished enough to allow anyone to shine that much. Marlon Wayans handles the goofy side of the script well, with over the top antics and slapstick presence, but crumbles under the weight of even light dramatic moments. The movie doesn’t lean much on those scenes, but Wayans stumbles and make them quite awkward. Kadeem Hardison is able to do a little more in those serious moments, but seems a little out of place in the humor slanted sequences. So neither is a great fit for the role, but then again, I still think the material is too thin and inconsistent, so I can’t put the blame on the cast as much as the writers. David Paymer is passable in the role of the coach, while Kevin Dunn, Octavia Spencer, and Michael Michele round out the main cast. I like parts of The Sixth Man, but even by brisk 90s comedy standards, it doesn’t offer enough consistent fun to earn more than a light recommendation.