Sports as we know it has been canceled for the foreseeable future. March Madness is over. Spring training, done. The NBA canceled itself on March 11 after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for covid-19; news of Gobert’s test and the subsequent cancelation broke while the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks were still playing. For many, basketball brings joy, and now, those people are joyless. Watching someone play NBA 2k20 for an hour may fill the void left by basketball’s untimely demise, but if you do not have access to this game or hate video games and would rather not at this time, please consider Forget Paris.
Currently streaming on HBO, Forget Paris holds up as an average, entertaining romantic comedy released during the summer of 1995, smashed somewhere in the middle of a small rom-com resurgence that included French Kiss, While You Were Sleeping, and Nine Months. Of the movies listed, Forget Paris is not one that floats to the top of the mind, but it is worth noting because of its backdrop of sports: In it, Billy Crystal plays an NBA referee named Mickey who falls for Ellen (Debra Winger), a flight attendant. They meet in Paris, fall in love in Paris, and eventually, Ellen—spoiler—moves to the United States to be with Mickey, who spends most of his time on the road, while she sits in their home in Los Angeles and, memorably, gets a live pigeon stuck to her face.
The story of Mickey and Ellen’s relationship is sweet and for some, familiar. Mickey is a basketball-loving man child who wants companionship, and Ellen is happy to provide that companionship but loses herself in the process, sacrificing her own happiness for Mickey’s career. Mickey and Ellen part ways, returning to their original arrangements: Ellen in Paris, and Mickey, on the road with the NBA. But because this is a romantic comedy, there is a happy ending for those looking to feel the warm embrace of cinematic love.
If basketball makes your March go ’round, Forget Paris is, as they say, the ticket. Although there’s minimal gameplay in the movie, many basketball men feature prominently, including but not limited to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Hardaway, John Starks, Isiah Thompson, and Spud Webb, a 5'7" point guard who stands near Billy Crystal so that they both can make a joke about height.
As far as action on the court, there’s that, too: I’m not intimately familiar with what makes a good referee, but this scene gives me the impression that all you really need to do as a ref is wave your arms around, scream, and, in the words of Too Short, blow the whistle.
It’s not a complete basketball game, per se, but if like me, you enjoy the ambient sound of sports in the background—a squeaky sneaker, the roar of the crowd—then Forget Paris will make you feel briefly beautifully normal.