Queen Latifah brings her A-game to Just Wright, a basketball-themed romantic comedy in which her character falls for the NBA star she is helping rehabilitate. Unfortunately, Latifah's good-natured charisma can only carry the film so far, and the dull Just Wright fouls out long before the buzzer.
Latifah is Leslie Wright, a 35-year-old physical therapist and New Jersey Nets fan still looking for love. Leslie lives with much prettier godsister Morgan (Paula Patton of Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire), who has no real personality or ambitions of her own outside of becoming an NBA player's wife. After Leslie bumps into Nets star Scott McKnight (rapper Common) at a gas station and schools him in the art of opening his gas tank, she scores an invite to his birthday party. Morgan tags along with Leslie to the party and quickly realizes Scott could make her dreams come true.
Morgan soon gets a proposal from Scott, whose career flourishes until he is seriously injured on the court. Morgan's plans do not involve marrying an injured NBA player, and she unceremoniously dumps him via letter. Leslie comes aboard as Scott's physical therapist, and is determined to have him back in action in time for the playoffs. As expected, their relationship is not purely platonic.
Latifah consistently turns in admirable performances in middling comedies, and Just Wright is no different. Her smiles and enthusiasm are genuine, but the real problem is the lack of romance or comedy in this romantic comedy. The screenwriters give Leslie little motivation to fall for Scott other than her age. After all, she has been doing just fine on her own, and Scott is a guy who cannot even pump his own gas.
Common is a decent developing actor, but his decision to give Scott an off-putting playboy drawl and consistently creep his way through every scene is off-putting at best. And that's nothing compared to Morgan, a decidedly horrible person who treats Leslie like an ugly stepsister while constantly leeching off her kindness. Leslie should ditch them both and find some new friends.
Just Wright also fails in the laugh department, and even Latifah is less funny than usual. Director Sanaa Hamri (Something New) also wastes the film's NBA backdrop, which, had it been better explored, could have provided a fresh twist to the film. Viewers are told Scott is a star and that the NBA needs good physical therapists. That is about the extent to which basketball is involved in Just Wright.
I cannot fault the filmmakers for shooting a family-friendly romantic comedy, but it is disappointing that the players consistently settle for formulaic layups instead of pushing the envelope with more memorable backcourt comedy buckets. Not particularly romantic and rarely funny, Just Wright is just barely OK.
VIDEO AND SOUND:
Fox's screening copy of Just Wright does not include the final transfer or sound mix, so I cannot review these aspects of the disc. I will update this section if the retail disc becomes available to me in the future.
Fox does provide a couple of extras for Just Wright, including The One You Can't Live Without (6:57), a brief making-of that talks about the project's origins and the casting of Latifah and Common. Next up is Common on the Fast Break (5:04), a short featurette about Common's basketball training. Also included are a dull gag reel (2:40) and the film's theatrical trailer.
Dull and forgettable, Just Wright bricks despite a decent performance from Latifah. With a better script, some edgier comedy and more respect for the game, Just Wright might have been worth cheering for. As it stands, Rent It is the most you should do.
William lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.