Sunday, May 02, 2010

“Just Wright” – Movie Review


This morning, my movie class had a bonus screening of a romantic comedy titled “Just Wright”, starring Queen Latifah. 


After a woman is hired to be the physical therapist to her cousin’s fiance, an All – Star NBA basketball player, she finds herself becoming involved with him once he’s dumped – but when the cousin returns, which woman will he choose?


Leslie Wright (Latifah), is a 35 – year old New Jersey Girl who works as a physical therapist in New York City.  For a long time now, she’s been trying to find her mate, but most men just want her as a friend.  She’s frustrated and on the verge of giving up, especially when she sees her younger and much prettier cousin Morgan plotting exactly how to catch herself a star player in the National Basketball Association.

A rabid fan of the New Jersey Nets, Leslie runs into Scott Mc Knight, the team’s star player, at a gas station.  Impressed by her knowledge of basketball, Scott invites Leslie and a guest to a party he’s throwing.  When Leslie brings Morgan, he falls for her right away and tracks her down at Leslie’s house. They immediately start dating and manage to hit it off from the very beginning.  Eventually, she moves in with Scott at his mansion and they become engaged.  All seems to be well, until Scott gets hurt while playing in the NBA’s All – Star Game; he is diagnosed with a torn ligament in his knee, which the doctors predict will cause him to miss the remainder of the season.  The severity of his injury is soon revealed as it seems that this type of damage can sometimes mean a premature end to a player’s career.  Once Morgan learns of this, she decides it’s time to move on, so she breaks up with Scott. 

Prior to the break-up, Morgan had Scott fire his bimbo physical therapist and instead hire Leslie to replace her.  Leslie gets blind – sided by the news that the two have broken up, but nevertheless, she stays on as Scott’s physical therapist.  The two wind up spending a considerable amount of time together and their working relationship ultimately turns into a personal relationship.  But just when Leslie thinks she may have found her mate, Morgan returns when she learns that Scott’s sports career may be salvaged.  Having to choose between the hottie Morgan and the considerably more earnest Leslie, Scott is now forced to pick which woman he wants most. 


This is your typical Hollywood formula love story – whether you see this as a good thing or a bad thing is up to how you interpret that statement.  Due for a wide release when it opens in mid – May, this one is expected to do big business as a perfect date movie – it has the romance that the women want to see and it has the sports that interests the men.  With those ingredients, how can it lose?  Well, to be perfectly honest, it can’t.  For what it is supposed to be, it works quite well.  There are definitely some funny moments in the movie, especially in a few scenes that will likely strike a chord with some women.  If you’re in a mood for something that’s light, entertaining and not terribly intellectually demanding, then I highly recommend this movie.  Under the right circumstances, it can be quite a good deal of fun. 

If I had to make any criticisms about this movie, it would be that while Queen Latifah definitely comes across as a most sympathetic character you want to root for, you really do need something along the lines of a hydraulic crane to suspend your disbelief in order to buy into the premise.  It’s really a fairy tale, so you have to accept it on those terms – otherwise, you’ll be questioning why a millionaire superstar basketball player would choose a down – to – earth “homegirl” like Latifah over the stunning Paula Patton (who plays the character of Morgan).  In short, the movie has about as much basis in reality as such other filmic accomplishments as “Lord Of The Rings”, “Harry Potter” or even “How To Train Your Dragon” – but it is also comparable in its escapist, entertainment value.  

The movie’s director, Sanaa Hamri, was interviewed after the screening.  Unfortunately, I was unable to remain for the entire interview, which seemed one of the more interesting – assuming, of course, you are fascinated in both the technical and business aspects of filmmaking.  She said that the movie originated when Queen Latifah (who also produces the movie) pitched an idea for this story, then hired a screenwriter to develop the script; Hamri, who also directed the sequel to “The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants”, is hoping that this movie will be a breakthrough not only in terms of her own career, but also, in the sense that a movie with an entirely black cast will be accepted by a white American audience.  Hamri talked about her own filmmaking process (she seldom sticks to the script and prefers to have her actors improvise), shooting a major motion picture while on location (New York City unions force you to shoot at least one day on a stuidio set rather than merely on the city’s streets) and working for a studio (they hold screenings of the movie where 300 people attend it long before it is released and complete questionnaires to provide feedback to the studio and filmmakers so that they can make any necessary changes in the final product).