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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this romantic comedy contains little that’s potentially worrisome to parents, except perhaps a storyline that explores how some women set their sights on becoming involved with pro athletes and set themselves up for a life of comfort. The subject’s played for laughs, but it’s elevated and mocked at the same time. The movie willingly stays within the formulaic confines of the genre (including the idea that successful women are incomplete without a man), never once pushing its boundaries. Not that Queen Latifah’s legions of fans, which include plenty of teens, would care; she’s in nearly every frame and is as affable as ever. There’s a little cussing and some drinking in social situations (usually wine), but not much more than that.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Physical therapist and diehard New Jersey Nets fan Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) can’t quite seem to get her love life right, even if everything else has fallen into place. She’s memorable, kind and charming, and beautiful, to boot, but guys always seem to relegate her to “friend” status. Her childhood pal, Morgan (Paula Patton), however, has no problem reeling in any suitor, largely because she’s drop-dead gorgeous and methodical in her pursuit of the perfect guy. Perfect in this case is Scott McKnight (rapper-turned actor Common), the Nets’ marquee ball player who befriends Leslie and falls for Morgan. When he’s injured, with his NBA career at risk, Leslie comes to his rescue, helping him rehabilitate his knee; rediscover his confidence; and re-affirm his passion for the game. But can they take their relationship to the next level?
Is it any good?
Queen Latifah is talented -- of this we are all certain by now -- but JUST WRIGHT should be renamed “Just So-So.” It’s entertaining in parts; even appealing in others. And the chemistry between Latifah and Common is somewhat authentic. But the Queen should be able to deliver more than OK. She’s a powerhouse, but her strengths are muted by a traditional frame that’s simply too constricting. Though there are some twists and turns in the plot, we are left unruffled by them because we know there’s no danger that things won’t turn out right. It’s that predictable. Plus, the story panders to the belief that successful women aren’t complete without a boyfriend.
That said, director Sanaa Hamri does an excellent job framing the on-court action. Either Common really is an NBA-potential athlete or Hamri’s great at directing basketball scenes. The storyline’s plenty timely -- pro athletes and their romantic adventures fascinate these days -- and that’s a plus. And the supporting cast, which includes Patton and Phylicia Rashad, is impressive. Still, JUST WRIGHT is no starter; as it is, it plays like a bench-warmer, and that’s just not right.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the character Leslie: Is she typical of female leads in romantic comedies? Why is it unusual to see women bigger than a size 2 in romantic comedies? Why are so many women in romantic comedies portrayed as if they’re incomplete without a boyfriend? Does this movie do anything to shake up the norm in romcoms?
Are there really women -- and men, too -- who pursue celebrities and athletes because it’ll pave the way for an easier life? Will it? In the film, does social-climbing Morgan seem sympathetic despite her goals? Why?
Why is it that in movies, superstar athletes are expected to be one-dimensional, caring only about their sport and bedding women? Why does this stereotype persist? Does this film shatter any of that?
- In theaters: May 14, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: September 14, 2010
- Cast: Common, Pam Grier, Paula Patton, Phylicia Rashad, Queen Latifah
- Director: Sanaa Hamri
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some suggestive material and brief language
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