American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
One of the problems with sports movies is that they've always got to end with the Big Game. They all seem to start the same way, too, with a down-and-out contender and an invincible defending champ, and of course with a stubborn coach and a plucky team made up of problem cases. We've seen this formula so often that "Fast Break" is almost like a rerun.
The movie stars Gabe Kaplan as a would-be basketball coach who haunts the playgrounds of New York City, scouting talent. His wife is not quite sure this is the way an adult male should be spending his spare time, and she's not won over when Gabe gets his big offer: Cadwallader U., out in Nevada, needs a coach and wants Kaplan. The pay, to be sure, is a little thin: Fifty bucks, cash, for every game his team wins. But there's a goal to shoot for. If Kaplan's team beats State, he'll get a three-year, no-cut, $30,000 contract.
Kaplan takes the job, even though his wife decides to stay in New York. He recruits four black kids to form the nucleus of his new team, and they head West in a station wagon.
One of the kids seems a little strange to the rest of the guys, and gets the nickname "Swish." The truth, wouldn't you know, is that Swish is a girl ... a fact I would not reveal if the movie's ads didn't announce it in large type.