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LESSONS A TIGHT SQUEEZE IN PARABLE.

Byline: -David Kronke

DIRECTOR GREGORY HINES' ``The Red Sneakers'' is sort of the family-film flip side to Michael Powell's 1948 masterpiece ``The Red Shoes.'' Powell's film examined the fierce commitment required to become a talented ballet dancer; Hines' concerns a hapless klutz who, thanks simply to a pair of magical shoes, becomes a high-flying basketball star.

Reggie Reynolds (Dempsey Pappion), aka Reggie the Wedgie, is a high school math whiz as hapless with a basketball as Michael Jordan was with a baseball, until, that is, he encounters an eccentric junk dealer named Zeke (Hines in a cameo appearance).

``I see the value in things other people see as worthless,'' Zeke says portentously, showing Reggie a pair of red sneakers that belonged to a Negro League basketball superstar. ``They say he played in 'em so much and for so long that his talent just kind of seeped right into 'em.''

Sure enough, he becomes a graceful demon on the court (and puts his mad math skills to work, tutoring the rest of the team). His mom, of course, wants to toss the old things out. A sneaker company run by a cynical CEO (Vincent D'Onofrio) tries to tap Reggie for its next Duke of Dunk sneaker campaign - well, you see where this is going. Lessons are learned, girlfriends are won, bad guys are vanquished.

It's a purely programmatic story, but one directed and played with surprisingly naturalistic conviction by Hines and his cast (save D'Onofrio's malicious, whimsical villainy). And it shoehorns in a smart message about overpriced corporate shoes endorsed by athletes just as the new Air Jordans - costing a cool $200 a pair - prepare to hit the market.

THE RED SNEAKERS Three and one half stars

What: A hapless basketball player's skills improve with the acquisition of a pair of magical sneakers.

Where: Showtime.

When: 8 tonight; also Feb. 18, 23 and 27.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Dempsey Pappion stars as a math whiz who gets game in ``The Red Sneakers.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Television Program Review
Date:Feb 10, 2002
Words:331
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