Friday, May 21, 2010

AB Goes To The Movies: Just Wright.

The Tyler Perryfication Of Black Cinema has unfortunately killed off the Negro Date Night tradition of the "urban romantic comedy". A man can't take his significant other to a black movie nowadays without being bombarded with images of black men in drag, horrible gospel sangin', and subplots involving childhood incest. Who the hell wants to deal with all that baggage? A movie's supposed to be a departure from real life. While I'm more than happy for Perry, and I'm always glad to see a brother paying his bills, the whole "rising tide lifts all boats" theory clearly doesn't apply here. TP's gain has been my loss.

Thankfully, Just Wright drops just in time to restore our bourgeois Negro sensibilities, and while it's hardly a memorable movie, let alone a great one, there are far worse ways to blow $40.

Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) is a physical therapist who's quickly approaching her 40's and longs for male companionship, but always seems to get dropped in the "homegirl/buddy/friend" zone by potential suitors. When a chance encounter finds her face to face with New Jersey Nets all-star guard Scott McKnight (Common), she thinks her lonely days are over, only to have her childhood best friend Morgan (Paula Patton) swoop in and methodically steal Scott, culminating in a premature marriage proposal just weeks later. But like most superficial lovers, when Scott gets injured during the All-Star game and finds his career in jeopardy, Morgan jumps ship and leaves Leslie to help Scott rehab his injury. You can prolly smell the improbable Cinderella ending already, so no need to ruin it for you.

This movie's good for lots of reasons. In case you doubted Queen Latifah's star power and ability to carry a movie, all of her likability and magnetism are on full display here. Considering the fact that I once slammed her for making a coontastic movie like Bringin' Down The House, I think apologies are in order. That was a woman with a plan, and the plan meant becoming a leading lady. She's officially arrived. While her chemistry with Common never really pans out, mostly due to the clumsy plotline and occasionally cheesy dialogue, it's good to see he's progressed quite a bit in his short time as an actor himself. After mostly playing hitmen and hired killers to this point, he's believable as a romantic interest, or so says my wife. So I guess there's still hope for Gucci Mane's film career. Paula Patton could just show up and look pretty and I'd still give her two thumbs up, but she works well in the dual role as sidekick and villain.

All this said, since I'm a sports fan and this movie is essentially Brown Sugar: NBA Edition, I gotta say something about the basketball angle in this movie. Quite honestly, it sucks. McKnight is no taller than 5-10, yet he either tomahawk dunks in traffic or shoots flatfooted treys with ease everytime down court. Anyone with a basic knowledge of the NBA knows the New Jersey Nets didn't even play in front of packed houses when they were a title contender a few years back, so watching their legions of rabid fans (including Leslie) stretches the limits of believability. It's loony enough to think the NBA would put an All-Star game in East Rutherford, yet even sillier that the home team would be wearing road jerseys. The Space Jams-caliber basketball sequences are thankfully kept to a minimum, as are cringeworthy cameos by Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. And it seems like the Nets play the Orlando Magic about 400 times a season. But hey, that's just the details-obsessed fan in me. You probably won't even notice this stuff, and even if you did, it wouldn't take away from your enjoyment.

The Verdict: You won't remember Just Wright the next day, but it's still not a bad way to blow $40 and get a 2 hour escape from reality. Catch the matinee. Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5).

Question: Did you see Just Wright? What did you think?

Just Wright [imdb]

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