Director: Sanaa Hamri
Cast: Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton, James Picken's Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Pam Grier
MPAA Rating: (for some suggestive material and brief language)
Running Time: 1:39
Release Date: 5/14/10
Review by Mark Dujsik | May 13, 2010
can take themselves seriously and not resort to war and terminal illnesses. Comedies can be enjoyable without having their characters fall down and
knock things over, being reduced to harbingers of general chaos.
a way, Just Wright is a romantic
comedy, in that it features a love story, a couple of complications, and a happy
ending (not to mention the poor pun of a title), but after a deluge of romantic
comedies that have given even the mention of those two words next to each other
a bad name, it would be doing the film a great disservice to dub it as such. It is simply a cheerful, enjoyable romance.
the usual situational obstacles, screenwriter Michael Elliot plots the setup to
the romance as far as it can go and then lets the characters work their way
through the rest. It is much easier
to invest in characters who aren't tools of a script, and when they have
personalities that don't hinge on stereotyped concepts of what characters in
material such as this should be like.
are a few pieces of formula here, but once one realizes that Elliot and director
Sanaa Hamri allow the character to exist beyond them, those bits of the familiar
go no further than the surface.
example, there is the heroine. At
first glance, Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) seems the typical type to which
we've become accustomed: Professional woman in search of a man. She goes on a blind date that progresses nicely, until it's
over. He starts spouting the usual lines (just got out of a..., need to take
some time..., and you're cool as a...), and she finishes them for him
(...relationship, ...for myself, and ...friend). She doesn't begrudge him, doesn't mope around for a while, doesn't
endlessly complain to her friend Morgan (Paul Patton) about not finding a good
moves on, as though, yes, it would be nice if she could find a man worth her
time who appreciates her but she won't obsess over it if it doesn't happen. She loves the New Jersey Nets and goes to a
game. This is the kind of strength and independence in a heroine so many
romantic comedies presume to have.
the game, Leslie meets the team's star player Scott McKnight (Common) at a gas
station. He's nice, likes her
attitude, and talks with her about jazz, so he invites her to his birthday
wants to meet him, not because of the qualities that Leslie noticed, but because
she wants to luxurious life of a basketball wife. As a character, Morgan is either out of place or a subversive jab at the
narcissistic, materialistic characters that have begun to populate the romantic
comedy world. Considering how she
serves as a barrier to Leslie and McKnight coming together (He's attracted to
Morgan right away, they start dating, and Leslie, being the actual strong
personality she is, is fine with it and moves on) and how her character makes a
complete turnaround in a crucial moment near the end, it's easier and more
likely to assume the former. Considering
how Elliot treats the other two central characters, though, it's nice (and
perhaps a little too optimistic) to think there's something less mundane
happening with her.
is injured, can't play, and might lose his contract. Fortunately, Leslie is a physical therapist.
story progresses as any reasonable person would think it would, but it also
doesn't. Leslie and McKnight
actually talk about things. She
passes on her energy to him, as he slips into feelings of impending failure and
the rejection of the woman he thought loved him (Morgan, obviously, leaves). There's a sense of tenderness to this
relationship. It lets McKnight open up about his love of music and his hope that he has
a father somewhere out there who is proud of him. It allows Leslie to consider a new career
path. It culminates in a sweet moment involving a repaired car and a dented
door that signifies one's respect for the other.
few hurdles appear later, as they must, but the characters react honestly to
them. Less so is the obligatory
licensing that comes when dealing with a professional sports organization. It means cameos by stars who provide nothing to the story or characters
and appearances by television sports reporters who offer repetitive backstory to
what's already happened on screen. One
such instance happens late in the movie, as McKnight appears on a sports talk
show and comes to an unnecessary realization. It feels more a case of needing to acknowledge the existence of a major
sports network and jamming a dramatic moment into the tie-in.
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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