SLAM at the Movies: Just Wright
Is Just Wright just great, just wrong or just OK?
by Maurice Bobb / @reesereport
Just Wright, the romantic comedy starring Queen Latifah (Leslie Wright) and Common (Scott McKnight), joins the pantheon of basketball-centric films today. But is this Cinderella-like romantic tale one of the good (Hoosiers, Hoop Dreams), the bad (Celtic Pride) or the ugly (Juwanna Mann)?
To be honest, I went into the screening wanting to like the finished product because I’d interviewed Queen for a Dime Drop (see the new issue on stands now) and I’d interviewed Common at the Jordan Brand Classic in New York. Both actors/rappers were enthusiastic and proud of the film, so that rubbed off on me.
I pictured a movie that would be a combination of Love & Basketball and Brown Sugar, both of which I really enjoyed.
Overview: (I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum)
Things start off pretty much by-the-numbers. Leslie is a full-figured, 35-year old physical therapist, who has a ticking clock when it comes to getting married but her “homegirl” aesthetic only attracts guys who want to “kick it” with her and not bless her with a Mrs. Not surprisingly, her live-in friend Morgan Alexander (she even sounds sexy doesn’t it?), played by the scrumptiously beautiful Paula Patton, is a calculating “Basketball Wives” wannabe who studies athletes to realize her dream of nabbing an NBA baller for a husband.
After another date ends in “friendship,” Leslie, a die-hard NJ Nets fan, goes to a game with Morgan, who is dressed to the nines in a Herve Leger dress (don’t ask me why I know that). After the game, Leslie has a chance meeting with Scott at a gas station and is subsequently invited to his birthday party after they discover they have a lot in common. At the party, they seem to be on the way to a few sparks, until Morgan walks up and pulls Scott in like he’s a 170-pound marlin. A lot of what you think will happen next does, until Scott has a career-threatening injury. His trophy fiancée bails on him, Leslie comes to the rescue and nurtures him back to the L just in time for…well, I’ll leave something to the imagination.
In the end, Scott has to make a choice and if you’re a frequent movie-goer, you know the rest.
Although I found myself laughing at times, I pretty much knew what was going to happen before it happened, which is to be expected with movies like this. After all, we’re not talking about Oscar bait here. Overall, the movie is not a slam dunk, but it’s not an air ball either. For basketball fans, it’s a bonus to see Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade get a few ticks on the silver screen. And make sure you don’t blink or you’ll miss Rajon Rondo’s quick cameo. I’d advise taking your significant other or date to this movie. You’ll love the bball sequences and she’ll love the love and I don’t have to tell you what that’ll mean for the rest of your evening.
Director: Sanaa Hamri
Leslie Wright: Queen Latifah
Scott McKnight: Common
Morgan Alexander: Paula Patton
Ella McKnight: Phylicia Rashad
Janice Wright: Pam Grier
Lloyd Wright: James Pickens Jr.
Mark Matthews: Laz Alonzo
Angelo Bembrey: Mehcad Brooks
Time spent eating popcorn: 1 hour, 51 minutes
*To read a dope Q and A with the Queen, pick up the new SLAM. Ms. Latifa dishes on her bball ability, Common, the movie and Paula Patton (Ok, maybe not the last one).