Just Wright (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Just Wright (2010)

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Andrew INDIFFERENTAt times, my love and admiration for Queen Latifah borders on the sublime.  She's a stunning presence onscreen with enough grace and beauty to fill the stupidest plot with dignity.  I've seen her save possible dreck like The Last Holiday and give it meaning.  I saw her flaunt her sexual confidence so fantastically in Chicago that she gave a good film more heat than it deserved.  Heck, even horrible films like the American Taxi remake have benefited from her incredibly magnetic persona.

So it comes as a bit of a shame that Just Wright is so bogged down in it's stupid plot that it almost conceals the Queen's great performance.  Here, as in other films, she takes a character like Leslie Wright and injects her with emotion and common sense.  She's a physical therapist, still getting some help from her parents (a very good James Pickens Jr. and an underused Pam Grier), with her mooch friend Morgan (Paula Patton) bumming around hoping to score a basketball player husband.

"Obama called.  Said he wants to spend some money on defense."

It's to the film's credit that Morgan's desire is not as ridiculous as it could be, and most thanks go to the Queen as she deflects each silly wish with a well earned phrase of incredulity.  Leslie and Morgan go out to a Nets basketball game and, after the game, Leslie has a chance encounter with Scott McKnight (Common) at a gas station.  Their meet cute is adorable, and pitched at the right level of attempted gentlemanly behavior on behalf of Scott, and the barely concealed fan-girl crush of Leslie.  It's an honest, warm moment in a genre that's sorely lacking in them.

Then the plot rears its creaky gears and the problems begin to start.  The complication in this case is that after the meet cute, Morgan plays her charms against Leslie's for Scott's affection.  Morgan's false coyness and generosity win over Scott in the short term and, after the film jumps ahead three months, Scott and Morgan are engaged.  Seems like they're jumping the gun just a tad huh?  Well, you and other characters in the film would agree.  Too bad that it takes our leads a long time to come to the same conclusion.

Eventually, fate steps in and injures Scott during a basketball game.  Morgan takes a disliking to the Swedish supermodel-esque personal trainer that he gets, and takes it upon herself to get Leslie's help in nursing Scott back to basketball shape.  Now, if you're a connoisseur of these films (and I've seen no less than five different films with variations on roughly the same plot this year alone), you might be able to guess what's going to happen next.

Latifah and Common are never anything less than perfectly photogenic.

Will Scott guess that Morgan is nothing but an opportunistic fair weather fiancee?  How about poor Leslie, will she and Scott get to live up to their full potential as romantic partners?  Will Scott's knee heal with Leslie's help?  How will the basketball world receive him when he comes back?  Do you know the answers to all of these questions?

I did, and every time the love triangle was playing out it sunk the film.  It's another plot where if Leslie would just say what she's feeling, then they could go on and live happily ever after.  Which is a shame, because when the love triangle is not killing the momentum there is a lot to like.  Common and Queen Latifah have amazing chemistry and their scenes are loving, there are a few good laughs to be had, and James Pickens Jr. does a wonderful job as the supportive father.

I wanted more of Leslie and Scott, not the transparent Morgan, and her character kept this film from being the wonderful trip it could have been.  It's just another disappointing romantic comedy from someone I know can do better.  In a year swimming with these kinds of films, you won't dislike Just Wright, but you'll with it could have been more.

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Just Wright (2010)

Directed by Sanaa Hamri.
Written by Michael Elliot.
Starring Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton, James Pickens Jr. and Pam Grier.

Posted by Andrew

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