If you were raised in the streets or if you’ve hung around your elders long enough, you’ve likely seen your fair share of domino battles, or “bones” as it is also called.
Baron Davis (yes, THE Baron Davis, you remember that dunk) brought those old-school memories to a feel-good comedy that is sure to make you whip out them Olde English 40’s and reminisce those epic games with his latest movie, “DOMINO: Battle of the Bones”.
Featuring an all-star cast of actors such as David Arquette, Snoop Dogg (as Professor Dominologist), the late Tommy “Tiny” Lister, and Davis himself, the movie builds around a thorny old Black grandpa (Lou Beatty Jr. as Gerald), his White step-grandson Andy (Nathan Dana) and Gerald’s long-time rival Tenspeed (Anthony McKinley), a cocaine-slinging, roller skating domino champ.
Snoop Dogg narrates throughout the movie, bringing the classic attitude, lingo, and humor that only he can provide. While the movie centers around Gerald and Andy, there are some other hilarious side plots as well, such as the financial woes of Walter (Arquette), who starts a tournament, The World Domino Championship, in hopes of getting a reality TV show out of it. Throughout the movie, he is harassed by Pastor Steele (Davis), an ordained entrepreneur and owner of God’s Credit about the money he is apparently owed. Then you have your typical Latino family dynamic, where the daughter Camila (Valeria Vallejos) is attempting to show her cousin Frederico (Carlito Olivero) and father Mr. Ines (Ruben Garfias) that she deserves a spot at the domino table. And last but not least, the hardened ex-convict Big Slams (Big Jah), who spent 14 years in prison and knows nothing else but dominoes. All of them in some way are a part of this tournament where the winner gets $10,000 and bragging rights in the hood.
After Andy’s parents put him on a plane to Compton to spend time with his grandpa while they went to Cabo San Lucas for vacation, Andy and Gerald have an awkward start; Gerald doesn’t see Andy as anything but a distraction and Andy struggles to build a connection with him. That is, until he sees Gerald playing dominoes. Andy, who had played the game on his phone and was pretty good, sat with Gerald and told him he could play, which broke the ice between the two. From there, Gerald entered the tournament and used Andy as a decoy of sorts to help him get to the top. Tenspeed, who happened to pick up on it, had a talk with Gerald and secretly recorded his rant, playing the tape to Andy. Distraught, Andy walked away and nearly left Gerald for good until a foiled robbery attempt.
After that moment, Gerald and Andy made up, realizing that family was the only true thing that mattered. Gerald, finally acknowledging Andy as his grandson, has him take his place in the championship round against Tenspeed. While Tenspeed ultimately won the tournament, Andy proved he was worthy of his respect, as Tenspeed hands Andy a mystery bag. After Tenspeed walked off, Andy showed the bag to Gerald, who opened it and revealed his late wife’s ring. In the end, everyone walks out better than they began – Camila bonds with her father and ends up with Big Slams, Walter gets his show and Andy and Gerald become inseparable.
At 109 minutes, it felt like it dragged on a bit but it didn’t feel like wasted time. The humor involved was definitely for those who were raised in the streets (if you know, you know). While it is a movie that does teach some lessons, it is not a movie I would sit with the kids in – there is some language that you definitely wouldn’t want them repeating at church or school.
“DOMINO: Battle of the Bones” is currently airing in movie theatres.
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation’s Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women’s basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, “The Triple Double”. A self-described “foodaholic”, Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, “Conscious Cravings”, where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.