Review: ‘Killer Bees’ doc shows high school basketball in the Hamptons is not what you’d expect
The “Killer Bees” of this modest, appealing sports documentary aren’t competitive apiarists but rather a high school basketball team in that New York enclave of moneyed celebrity, the Hamptons. And yet there’s one more layer of presumptiveness to penetrate: This isn’t a squad of rich kids — the mixed-race Bridgehampton High, and its mostly black basketball team, represent the year-round townsfolk who live, literally, on the other side of the tracks from the oft-publicized vacation-home wealth.
Directors Orson and Ben Cummings followed a winning year for the small high school’s championship basketball program, which we learn arose out of an athletics-driven child care center set up generations ago for the offspring of migrant potato farmers. We also learn that this is a high school repeatedly under threat of closure by the forces of gentrification, racism and a widening income gap, which puts an added dose of pressure on the student players to keep the Bees winning games year after year.
The political side of the movie is unfortunately more like a glancing element than a delved issue — the story of a mid-’80s protest against shutting down the school feels undersold, and repeated cutaways to a comically oblivious high-end real estate broker showing off ostentatious homes feels obvious rather than illuminating. But the bread and butter of good kids with talent and dreams, a committed coach, loyal followers and game footage does the expected task of charming us into becoming new fans, wherever we are.
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica
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