If you like basketball dramas, you might enjoy seeing some of the games Boogie plays in, but the film is light on character introspection. If you've read anything about writer-director Eddie Huang, you'll know how his traumatic past with his family has informed him as an adult. When looking through that lens, Boogie appears to be influenced by some of Huang's personal experiences. But Boogie's parents are as mysterious as they are relatable. Viewers don't learn why this couple, who clearly hate each other, have stayed together. Nor do we learn why Boogie's father is adamant about him becoming an NBA superstar. We do know that in their own ways, each parent wants what's best for their child. However, because they disagree on even the fundamentals of what's best for Boogie, they end up emotionally destroying each other in the process. Much of the film's best parts come from Yung and Chee's performances. Perhaps the film should have focused on these seasoned actors, who bring complexity to an otherwise tepid film.
A closer look at what fuels the Chin family's dysfunction -- and how they might overcome it -- would make Boogie a unique entry in the world of sports films. But the movie sidelines that story for the sake of a half-baked romance between Boogie and Eleanor. It's a romance that's all surface level: While the pairing does contribute to broadening the idea of what interracial relationships can look like, Boogie and Eleanor seem to be together just because the script called for it. Boogie himself is also highly unlikable, both as a boyfriend and as a diamond-in-the-rough basketball player, so it's kind of hard to root for him. That's especially true when he demonstrates sexist habits and ideology, such as staring at Eleanor's crotch while she's exercising, or being angry that she didn't tell him that she once dated his rival, Monk (Pop Smoke). Boogie's penchant for self-destruction comes through in his relationships with his parents, basketball coach, and Eleanor, which could be an interesting character element to examine. Instead, the story coddles Boogie and doesn't allow him to grow, making him one-note.