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Quantum Hoops

One disc; Green Forest Films; $24.95

By Jessica Fromm

The California Institute of Technology is famous for its brains, having nurtured some of the worlds (world's) most brilliant scientific minds. But as can be expected in a school that has always preferred the eggheads over the jocks, Caltech's sports program, if you can call it that, is sufficiently wanting in brawn. In fact, the Caltech Beavers basketball team hasn't won a single game in two decades. First-time director Rick Greenwald chronicles the team's 2006 season in the documentary Quantum Hoops. With more high school valedictorians on the team than players with previous basketball experience, Caltech has consecutively lost more than 243 games. The ultimate underdog story, this warmhearted film follows the Beavers in their quest to win a single game. Quantum Hoops could have easily turned the struggle of these young players into a sports-blooper reel: a bunch of pencil-necked geeks falling down and missing free throws. Instead, narrated by a sincere, if rather unexcited-sounding, David Duchovny, the documentary manages to stay decidedly buoyant and genially humorous. However heartfelt, Quantum Hoops does seem padded. Greenwald, who spends his day job as a reality-TV editor, originally intended this to be a short. A self-professed sports fanatic, Greenwald spends much of Quantum Hoops in iMovie-esque montages of team pictures and historical black-and-white photo collages. Diving into the Beavers' illustrious athletic past, Greenwald clearly found the minutiae of Caltech historical details more exciting then a general audience ever will. The film is at its most compelling when following the daily lives of the hardworking, academically brilliant 2006 team. On a squad where almost the entire lineup earned perfect math scores on their SATs, these young men obviously play because they love the sport and the team, not because they have to.

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