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Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Just Wright" Movie Trailer & NY Daily News Review

"Just Wright" Movie Review

Hollywood often relegates its most interesting actresses to genre films or supporting roles, and Queen Latifah's been no exception. But she should be a leading lady, and she knows it: That's why she produced "Just Wright" herself.

As it turns out, director Sanaa Hamri depends a little too much on her charismatic star in the hopes that Latifah can elevate average material. And to an impressive degree, she does. But ultimately, this one-of-a-kind woman deserves more than a one-size-fits-all romance.

The title refers to Leslie Wright (Latifah), a physical therapist living in New Jersey with marriage-obsessed parents (James Pickens Jr., Pam Grier) and a social-climbing best friend, Morgan (Paula Patton). Though Leslie's the die-hard Nets fan, it's beautiful Morgan who snares an NBA fiance, All-Star player Scott McKnight (rapper Common).

When Scott shreds his knee, and his prospects, Morgan swiftly moves out of his Manhattan mansion. Meanwhile, Leslie moves in, as a full-time therapist and psychological cheerleader.

What should happen next is that Leslie and Scott strike unmistakable sparks and fall madly in love. What actually happens is that Common and Latifah build a beautiful friendship, while awkwardly fulfilling a story line that pushes them together in the most obvious ways.

The chemistry between the leads is more cozy than sexy, but the biggest issue is Latifah's noticeable - and admirable - discomfort with the rom-com clich├ęs found throughout Michael Elliot's screenplay. When characters plot to snag a husband, for example, or she's required to swan down the stairs like Cinderella, this icon of individuality looks distinctly uncomfortable.

On the other hand, when she gets to banter with Scott's mom (a delightful Phylicia Rashad), or cheer on the Nets - suspend your skepticism at their success - she relaxes and has a genuinely good time. In those moments, so do we.

Latifah has talent and personality to spare, so it would be great to see her taking on more romantic roles. But to sell herself short in the process? Clearly, even she knows that's just wrong.

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