In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_office_christmas_party

Office Christmas Party

Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…

Thumb_harry_benson_shoot_first

Harry Benson: Shoot First

The filmmakers are themselves too celebrity besotted to comment in a meaningful way on how Benson’s career balanced depictions of the rich and famous with…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Just Wright

Just Wright Movie Review
  |  

One reason people like Queen Latifah is that she likes herself. In most of her roles, she radiates cheer. She can play grim, as in “Bringing Out the Dead,” but she has a natural sunniness that makes me, at least, feel good. And she is a real woman, not a skinny woman with too many sharp angles. Jennifer Aniston, who looks perfectly great, makes me worry about her about her self-image when she talks about the baby food diet.

Advertisement

Latifah has never been fat. She has always been plus-size. There is a difference. She is healthy, fit, carries herself with confidence, and looks terrific in “Just Wright” in the kind of clothing a physical therapist might feel comfortable wearing. If you’re dragging around feeling low about yourself, you want to know her secret.

This is not a discussion of the Queen’s body, however; it’s about the whole gestalt. One of the reasons she’s the star of “Just Wright” is that few people, and certainly no one in this film, can hold the screen against her. As with many other stars, when she’s in a shot, it’s about her.

Sure, we go along with the fiction that Scott (Common), the handsome pro basketball player in the movie, is going to marry Morgan (Paula Patton), Queen Latifah’s BFF. Sure, we think Patton looks terrific and is a beauty. But, come on. Once Scott injures his knee and hires Miss Wright (Latifah) as his live-in physical therapist, we know he’s going to fall in love with her. It’s so much easier to fall in love with someone who is necessary to you than someone you are necessary to.

The plot involves Leslie Wright and Morgan as obsessed fans of the New Jersey Nets: Leslie because she loves basketball, and Morgan because she wants to be a player wife. After Leslie has a Meet Cute with the handsome Nets star Scott McKnight at a gas station, she gets invited to his birthday party, and of course takes Morgan along. Scott zooms in on Morgan. Leslie, as a loyal best friend, is accustomed to this.

After Scott gets a knee injury and Leslie becomes his special duty therapist, the trick is to not rush in the direction the movie is obviously moving. Director Sanaa Hamri accomplishes this. She and writer Michael Elliot add enough detail and actual dialogue (you know, people talking about things in more than one syllable) so that we enjoy the growing closer process. Paula Patton’s Morgan is a self-centered egotist and no good at care-giving, but hey, that’s built into the role.

Hamri is herself an actor-director, with an interesting background; she directed two of Prince’s TV specials, and the very good “Something New” (2006), starring Sanaa Lathan (no relation). That was another film about a woman and man gradually discovering they’re in love, which is always more fun than the first-sight deal. Here Common isn’t called upon to do much heavy lifting in the acting department, but he plays well with Queen Latifah. Sure, the movie is a formula. A formula that works reminds us of why it became a formula.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Why Critics Should See Bad Movies

A piece on the experience gained from seeing bad movies.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part 36: "Lisztomania"

For the 36th installment in his video essay series about maligned masterworks, Scout Tafoya examines Ken Russell's "L...

Racism, Religion and Remembering Pearl Harbor

Remember Pearl Harbor and remember how prejudice shaped history.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus