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"Just Wright?" Yeah, Not So Much

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fox Searchlight
    Queen Latifah and Common get cozy in their new film, Just Wright.

    Those billboards around town you keep confusing for "Love and Basketball 2?" They're actually ads for "Just Wright," an overly simplistic romantic comedy starring two very talented and charismatic rappers, though you wouldn't know it by this film.

    Queen Latifah takes the lead as Leslie Wright, a 35-year-old physical therapist who may or may not live at home, and, if she doesn't, her omnipresent parents, James Pickens Jr. and Pam Grier, sure do stop by a hell of a lot. A diehard Nets fan, she meets their alarmingly tiny star player, Scott McKnight (Common) one night at a gas station and they very platonically hit it off. When he suffers a potentially career ending injury, she nurses him back to health, predictably falling for him along the way. The problem is he's already engaged to her vapid, gold digger god-sister and best friend, Morgan, (the unspeakably beautiful Paula Patton).

    Gasp!

    Will these two get together? Will he choose inner beauty over a trophy wife? Will someone please tell us who green-lit this trash? 

    Seeming less like a film and more like a very loooong tedious episode of a sitcom, the only thing missing from this in-aptly titled flick is canned laughter.  Without chemistry or pizzazz, the plot trudges along with painful predictability until all you can do is roll your eyes and whisper to your next door seatmate, "Did they really just do that?" Oh yes, they did.

    Let's just start with the main characters' names, shall we?

    Wright and McKnight.

    Get it, get it? He's her McKnight in shining armor. She's Miss Wright. No really, someone got paid a lot of money to write that. And it's nuances such as those which make "Just Wright" so very wrong. Director Sanaa Hamri, who previously helmed the very loveable "Something New," as well as the offensively awful "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," turns her leads into caricatures. Forced and unrelentingly cheesy, the only thing worse than the writing is the acting, which is best compared to a basketball groupie's silicone implants: stiff, inorganic, and implausibly overblown.

    Queen Latifah was nominated for an Oscar for cryin' out loud. Usually, we would pay to watch her read the phone book. Could this be Common's fault? He may be easy on the eyes and a great musician, but after a solid debut in the otherwise wildly misguided, "Smokin Aces," he's done nothing but recycle the same corrupt cop performance from "Street Kings" to "Date Night." Phylicia Rashad, a sitcom veteran, gives the only grounded performance in the entire film, perhaps because she's so comfortable with the construct, and, sidenote, what the hell was Mercad Brookes' agent thinking? The poor guy is a glorified extra.

    It's sad to see so much talent squandered on a paint-by-numbers rom-com that's less satisfying than a rerun of "Saved by the Bell."