Queen Latifah, Paula Patton and Common are the stars of Just Wright, Hollywood’s latest attempt to make a decent black romantic comedy. These things don’t come around all that often (Maybe, one or two every two or three years?), so I try to give black romantic comedies the benefit of the doubt even if the trailer isn’t all that great. But with Just Wright the trailer actually looked pretty good.
The basic story is about how Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah), a physical therapist and die-hard New Jersey Nets fan and Morgan (Paula Patton), Leslie’s shallow but gorgeous god-sister, deal with their various encounters/relationships with star Nets player Scott McKnight (Common). Scott and Morgan become an item, but things change when Scott is injured and unable to play basketball. Leslie becomes Scott’s full-time physical therapist while Morgan “takes a break” from her relationship with Scott. All of that is in the previews so, I’m not giving up anything there. All in all, Just Wright is a cute movie and provides for a pleasant if not predictable viewing experience. For my SPOILER-ridden review, click below.
Just Wright, like most movies, has its good parts and its stinky parts. To me the good outweighs the bad, but only if you are truly open to a goofy, how-the-heck-was-that-possible, romantic comedy. Below I break down what I liked, what I didn’t like and my short overview of the whole movie.
Stuff I Liked:
I friggin’ love Queen Latifah. From “Ladies First” to her Oscar-nominated role in Chicago and the sorely missed television series Living Single, the Queen has shown that she is truly multi-talented. In Just Wright, her character is believable and charming and very funny. I would hang with Leslie! I love the way she checks Morgan and that part where she is all giddy in the bed after she sleeps with Scott for the first time is super cute. Though some of the situations in the movie lack reasonable explanations or believability if you think hard enough about it, Leslie’s reactions to those situations is logical and believable. Like Scott’s mom (Phylicia Rashad) says, “I like her.” By the way, Phylicia Rashad is great in her small, but memorable role.
The Little Moments
Director Sanaa Hamri (Something New, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2) does a good job of capturing endearing and/or revealing moments between the characters. Every scene with Leslie and her dad is pitch perfect. As a daddy’s girl myself, I appreciate Leslie’s dad doing what he can to help and protect his little girl even if his “little girl” is 35 years old.
Notice how I didn’t title this section “The Soundtrack.” That’s because this movie HAS NO SOUNDTRACK!! Why? The film stars not one, but two people who are primarily known for their music careers, yet this film has no soundtrack for sale. Maybe soundtracks don’t sell anymore? I don’t know. The songs that play during the movie are good, appropriate songs that are layered and for the most part, forward the scene or plot. There are tracks from a variety of people including Mos Def, Van Hunt, Common, Queen Latifah and Rahsaan Patterson. It’s a winner. I’d love to see them put that together. The folks over at the ReelSoundtrack Blog have compiled a list of all the songs in the film along with links when available.
Stuff I Didn’t Like So Much:
Scott’s Whole Friggin’ Life
I know I said earlier that in order to enjoy a movie like this, you have to be able to suspend reality a little and not get too caught up in the details or circumstances that make no sense, but the lack of reality in Scott McKnight’s life just irks me! This dude has been in the league for 10 years. He is a star player on an NBA team (and I guess since we are in fantasy land we are assuming that the Nets are a top notch NBA team). He is heterosexual, very single, a perfect gentleman and has never been married. Someone like Scott would have had every kind of groupie and famous hanger-on chick trying to get at him. He literally keeps the door to his multi-million dollar home unlocked or wide open at all times. (Did you notice that at his birthday party? No way is an NBA player’s birthday party at a home with a wide open door at street level with NO security whatsoever.) Women (and psychos) would be crawling into his bed every night if Scott lived like that. Okay, so in reality Scott would have seen and heard every kind of trick in the book from women who aspire to be an NBA wife. How does Morgan slide in with her amateur groupie game, get him to chase her AND get a ring on it in three months? Puh-lease. Yes, Morgan is beautiful, but he’s seen plenty of that in his life. We are supposed to believe that Scott is a nice, around-the-way kind of guy, why would he not be able to see through Morgan’s little game? There’s more about his life that bothers me, but I’ll just leave it at that.
Lack of Romance
I want it all. Yes, we got a couple make-out sessions and something like a love scene, but there is not enough romance shown in the movie. We get the “grand gesture” of sorts when Scott goes to Leslie and offers to follow her wherever she wants to go. That was a sweet moment, but then the movie fast forwards to their life post-wedding. Booo! This is a movie where the main character is not of the stick-figure variety AND the movie is not about weight. What a perfect opportunity to throw in all those romantic comedy scenes that we want to see. I wanted to see Scott propose to Leslie. I wanted to see Leslie in her wedding dress. Their wedding could have been a great scene that would help elevate this film from cute and okay to really memorable. Remember when Brian McKnight appeared on Martin when Martin proposed to Gina? Of course you do! Imagine a scene like that in this movie. Scott is an NBA player, they could have had Esperanza Spalding or Erykah Badu or Corrine Bailey Rae or any great singer at the wedding. *sigh* Missed opportunity. If you’re going to make a cute, light-hearted romantic comedy, do it all the way. The lack of a wedding worked in Love and Basketball because that movie was more so about the long and complicated courtship between the two main characters. We felt like we knew them very well and we didn’t really need to see a wedding for them. Their story was about love more than romance if that makes any sense. But we needed a wedding for Leslie and Scott.
How many ways do I love Common? Oh, I don’t know. But I do know that he needs acting classes. I love him and I buy his music, but I need him to step it up a bit if he’s going to continue this acting thing. He’s not horrible, just not great.
All in All
It’s a cute, fun movie. There are some misses in it, but it’s still entertaining. I don’t expect this film to be on the same level as Love Jones or The Best Man or any of those other black romantic comedies that have scenes etched into our brains. It is worth the price of the movie ticket even though I wouldn’t buy the DVD. Oh, I also love that Queen Latifah’s production company, Flavor Unit, is behind this film. She did a good job with casting and picking a director, hopefully we’ll see more and better movies from her soon.