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'Eddie': nothing but net laughs Review: Whoopi Goldberg scores as an NBA coach in a formulaic but still fun film.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

"Eddie" has great laughs, a charismatic star, a charming supporting cast and even a little thrilling basketball. Unfortunately, its plot is lacking.

There's a plot, of course, but like any Sports Movie, it's pretty obvious. Losers become winners. And the obligatory obstacle -- involving the team's greedy owner -- is pretty contrived.

So, are you here for laughs or for a story? If you've come for laughs, Whoopi Goldberg delivers as Eddie, a dedicated and wonderfully obnoxious New York Knicks fan who is discovered by the team's new owner, Wild Bill (Frank Langella), after the Knicks' coach (Dennis Farina) walks.

Bill, a modern-day Barnum who wears sequined suits and cowboy hats and rides a sneaker-shod horse into the arena, sees Eddie as a gimmick, a way to bring in the crowds. But she has real skills, honed by years as a Knicks fan and Police Athletic League coach (inspired by her late husband, a cop).

She takes on the lazy crew of million-dollar contracts and begins to sort out their problems.

Stacy Patton (Malik Sealy of the L.A. Clippers) is a brilliant player but refuses to pass the ball. Terry Hastings (Rick Fox of the Celtics) is upset by a pending divorce. Ivan Radovadovitch (Dwayne Schintzius) is a Russian whose English consists of "Ivan make basket!" And on it goes.

Eddie coaxes and yells and teases the competition (Dennis Rodman in pink hair, et al.) and puts on Armani and eventually gets the guys in gear.

We all know she'll start winning, and she does.

And everything is going so well, we know there will be a setback, and there is: Wild Bill himself, who has dastardly plans for the Knicks (remember the Cleveland Browns, anyone?). So tension and skills collide in a pivotal game when Eddie must face her nemesis, the former Knicks coach, who is now heading the Charlotte Hornets.

The climax is kind of ridiculous, and we only get 10 seconds of basketball afterward. In this case, the old Sports Movie formula might have worked better -- finish the film with a fulfilling session of exciting play.

But, hey, you didn't come for the story, right?

'Eddie'

Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Frank Langella

Directed by Steve Rash

Released by Hollywood Pictures

Rated PG-13 (language)

Sun Score: 1/2

Pub Date: 5/31/96

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