The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Just Wright

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Chick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-grey-smChick-O-Meter-grey-sm Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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Just Wright

She’s attractive; he’s attractive. What, oh what, will happen?

I attended this screening hoping that for once, the female and male lead would meet and NOT have a contentious rivalry to overcome during the course of the film. You know what I mean; the two immediately dislike each other and embark on a campaign of one-upsmanship and put-downs. My wish was granted in this one instance. After that, the age-old formula monster showed its carbon-copy fangs and I unfortunately won all of the predictability bets. I hate when that happens.

Evidently, some age-old plot device commandment somewhere dictates that a couple must discover they are right for each other, even though the audience knows it immediately and must then sit through all sorts of silly, improbable situations until the couple knows it, too.

Physical therapist Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) and NBA star Scott McKnight (rapper Common) meet at a gas station and she assists him in finding his car’s gas cap. It’s such a new car and he’s preoccupied on his cell phone; anyway, he is grateful for her help, and that gets her a personal invitation to his upcoming birthday party.

The two seem to be genuinely attracted to one another. She’s a lifelong New Jersey Nets fan and he’s a 12-year member of the team (superstar, championship winner, that kind of thing). Her parents (James Pickens Jr. and Pam Grier) just want her to settle down. She’s pushing 35 after all, and in movie land, that means a shawl and a rocker and a dozen cats loom on the horizon. McKnight’s mother (Phylicia Rashad) is on the lookout for one-dimensional gigolettes that want to get their materialistic hooks into her son.

Of course, Wright’s love life is in the dumpster, full of commitment-phobe dates and guys who think she’d make a great homegirl (platonic pal, friend with benefits) but nothing more. Wright’s written off love as that thing that happens to other people.

Wright’s best friend is the gold-digging Morgan (Paula Patton). She’s even got a pirate’s name. Morgan promptly sets her sights on McKnight with all of the bling-filled designer lifestyle and access to the Wives Section at Net home games this will get her. She wants to be somebody, a “brand” she tells Wright, and that can only happen if she snags a popular NBA player.

An understanding and much-too-nice Wright takes Morgan with her to McKnight’s party, setting off a domino-like chain of events that anyone watching the trailer can most likely predict.

When an unexpected knee injury throws a monkey wrench into everyone’s machinery, Wright is called upon to help McKnight recover from a career-threatening injury with just eight weeks until the playoffs. Speculation about his future throws doubt on his ability to remain in the NBA. Basketball play is brief, but fast-paced and includes some real life players. Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis (Orlando Magic), Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat), Bobby Simmons Jr. (New Jersey Nets) and Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics) make appearances as themselves – and do it well.

You, the viewer are left to ponder a variety of compelling questions. Which woman will stick by McKnight’s side? Will he make the playoffs? What will happen to his career? Will he discover that Wright is his own Ms. Right or will he be blinded by her narcissistic, flattering gal pal? And why isn’t Pam Grier out somewhere kicking cinematic ass?

Queen Latifah is so likable you might overlook some of the sap she is forced to trudge through. Common appears mildly amazed in most of his scenes, like he can’t believe he’s actually in a film. Pam Grier and Phylicia Rashad play aging moms with grace and complacency, but you can see a restlessness in them to do more than a merely adequate script demands.

Paul Patton is one of the most believable characters in the film as the plotting, marriage-minded, celebrity hound Morgan. James Pickens Jr. as Wright’s loving father Lloyd, is another.

Director Sanaa Hamri (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2) plays it safe and cute, but the film seems longer than its 111 minute running time. The camera sometimes lingers several moments past its usefulness on ordinary scenes of dialogue, making for some uncomfortable, even tedious pauses that the audience must share along with the principals. True love shouldn’t be this boring.

The general public must approve of plots like this which is why so many of them continued to be churned out. Maybe there’s something to be said for taking the well-worn path to the “happily ever after” party, never thinking to stray into new, undiscovered territory.

Then again, maybe not.

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