Found. Now what?


Tony Greene is an NBA superstar who, at the height of his career, comes home to find his house ransacked and his wife murdered. He leaves the game, dedicates himself to heavy drinking, and pretty much gives up. Years pass, and Tony, having been arrested for a DUI, is offered a chance at reduced probation if he coaches a women’s junior college basketball team.

That all happens in the first 15 minutes.

The team is a collection of misfits who need to be whupped into shape. A young woman named Destiny is a basketball prodigy who stands out not only for her ability but also for her attitude. She has a big chip on her shoulder and refuses to try out for the team, and when Tony attempts to get to the heart of the problem and recruit her, she snaps, “Stop caring.”

The team is made up of bright new actors, including Preet Kaur, Isabelle Almoyan, Hope Jordan, Antionette Howard, and Rayven Symone Ferrell. Brook Sill, of Netflix’s Cobra Kai and Stranger Things, also impresses as Destiny’s sidekick Kayley.

Stephen Bishop, as Tony, has a serenely athletic presence. He is a retired basketball player whose acting credits include Moneyball and Safe House. Raquel Justice, as Destiny, is effectively obstinate as his foil. She’s been seen in the TV reboots of Quantum Leap and Netflix’s One Day at a Time. Both actors are convincing and watchable, but their transformations from surliness to acceptance happen too abruptly.

In the best tradition of sports movies, alliances are formed, lives are restored, and individuals learn to work together. The team thrives. This sort of movie is an easy layup. The problem is that finding Tony makes it a complicated play and starts missing shots.

Writer/director Raven Magwood Goodson wants to tackle a compelling story in her script, but her direction is uneven and too reliant on clichés. Her court sequences lack excitement—she often puts her camera in a place that reveals her limited budget—and she resorts to clunky montages of pop music, newspaper headlines, and team hugs to convey progress.

Finding Tony is built on trauma. Not just Tony’s, but trauma upon trauma. Tony has his grief and drinking problem. Destiny is in an abusive foster home after being abandoned by her birth mother. And every so often, we get glimpses, set in the past, of a distraught sex worker who ultimately holds the key to redemption.

Ms. Goodson just has too many balls in the air. Her script makes it hard to tell whose story this is. Three-quarters of the way through the film, an attempt to tie all the stories together, comes to an absurd conclusion. Had she concentrated on one plot line, say Tony bonding with the team and taking them to victory, rather than going off in so many other directions, she’d have an enjoyable genre picture.


Finding Tony. Directed by Raven Magwood Goodson. 2024. From Level 33 Entertainment. Available on VOD. 106 minutes.

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