by M. Faust
Suspense is not the point of a romantic comedy. We know the genre when we see it, and once the film has established who our stars are we understand that they will be in each other’s arms as the final credits roll. What we do expect is an entertaining journey to that predetermined end, with our putative lovers encountering and conquering unexpected hurdles in witty and plausible fashion. We get none of this in Just Wright, which is instead the kind of movie that assumes that exposure to a popular movie star is all the filmmakers are obligated to provide in return for our ticket dollars. That star here is Queen Latifah, who plays Leslie Wright, a physical therapist who is just starting to admit to herself, that her status as a single woman is increasingly less likely to change as she hits the halfway-to-40 mark. We of course know better, and are unsurprised when she has a meet-cute with Scott McKnight (hip-hop singer Common), star player for the New York Nets. The movie keeps them apart by interposing Leslie’s best friend Morgan (Paula Patton, the schoolteacher in Precious), who looks like an NBA trophy wife and is eager to be just that. That Scott falls for her is not to his credit, but then it’s not his movie. Latifah is a fine singer and deft comedienne, but she is not your standard romantic lead, and this cliched, paper-thin script is not right for her: Why would anyone want to see her playing docile and meek? A good romantic comedy is like a meal of macaroni and cheese, unsurprising and not really good for you but oh so satisfying. Just Wright is more like a Twinkie: You may eat one, but you’re sorry you did before you’re halfway through it.
Watch the trailer for Just Wright
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