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Coming off the phenomenal success of her starring voice role as Joy in Pixar’s Inside Out, Amy Poehler will bring that momentum to the live-action realm. However, the premise for her latest developing project might just sound familiar to what might be dozens of enthusiasts of a certain 1996 movie in which Whoopi Goldberg plays an NBA basketball coach.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amy Poehler is set to produce and star in a yet-to-be-titled comedy feature in which her character, a former basketball coach, becomes the unlikely skipper of an NBA team. The project will see Poehler team up with The Mindy Project writer/star Ike Barinholtz, who will pen the script in addition to having a role in the film.
While the film is described as a comedy, there also seem to be serious elements in the plot pertaining to the struggle of Poehler’s coach as she deals with the pressure of being the first female to fill such a role and falls under the scornfully incredulous watch of naysayers. The scenario was likely inspired by the current sports page headlines with the San Antonio Spurs, who opted to shatter glass ceilings, in addition to backboards, with the appointment of Becky Hammon as the first female assistant coach in the NBA. Thus, with the social significance of Hammon, whose star continues to rise as she also heads the Spurs’ Summer League team, the comedy for this film will not likely be too over-the-top.
Inspirational aspects aside, longtime movie fans are likely to point out that this scenario sounds quite similar to the plot of Whoopi Goldberg’s 1996 box office bomb, Eddie. In that film, Goldberg played Eddie, a limousine driver and obsessive New York Knicks fan who comes to an unlikely prominence after winning a contest to be the honorary coach for half of a game. Her unbridled passion wins over the crowd, causing an infuriated head coach to quit, which incites the owner to make Eddie the new head coach. Similar to the description of Poehler’s project, Eddie’s unrefined approach, coupled with being a woman, presents obstacles at first before her true value to the team is made evident.
However, lest we sing the praises of Eddie, it should be noted that the film was received horribly, was hugely unprofitable, and proved to be a shameful, Razzie-nominated effort for Goldberg. Thus, the comparison between Poehler’s potentially poignant project and the 1996 film that was one of the final nails in the coffin of Goldberg’s box office bankabilty are unproductive outside of the basic premise. Besides, the comedic talents of Ike Barinholtz, who also wrote mega-star Dwayne Johnson’s upcoming team-up with Kevin Hart, Central Intelligence, should yield less critically eviscerating results. Factoring Poehler’s seasoned, versatile talents as a performer, this film could be a three-point shot in the making.
At the moment, Amy Poehler’s basketball coach movie has neither a director, title, or release date. However, you might get a brief preview of the dynamic when Poehler appears with the aforementioned Ike Barinholtz, and repertory collaborator Tina Fey, in Sisters, which arrives under the box office Christmas tree on December 25.