Whether you're practicing your jump-shots for the NBA finals or working on your trunk rotation in physical therapy, repetition is key since you get stronger and more secure – physically and mentally – with time.
Repetition is also the backbone of the romantic comedy genre since all of the entries in the genre seem to rely on the standard “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back” paradigm in echoing that plot-line at least once or twice during any given studio rom-com.
And while the popular fare has become so repetitive that everyone knows precisely where the movies are headed even before they begin – and indeed part of their appeal is in the comfort of familiarity – perhaps because Just Wright deals with four topics that require repetition via basketball, physical therapy, romantic comedies and the genre favorite Cinderella stories, it manages to balance itself out enough to juggle multiple and more three-dimensional plot-lines than your standard “boy meets girl” release.
The film finds Queen Latifah back in her irresistibly likable Last Holiday meets Bringing Down the House mode, as the perpetual “homegirl” or best friend material Leslie that guys love hanging around with since she's “good people” but just never manages to spark romantic interest in men looking for their stereotypical girly-girl beauties.
Although she's able to trash talk at New Jersey Nets games with the best of them since her blood runs blue and red, as a physical therapist the caring Leslie is devoted to making her patients' lives better. But when a chance encounter with her favorite Net Scott McKnight (Common) eventually leads to her helping him embark on the road to recovery and NBA glory, Leslie is stunned to discover that she's more than a little attracted to the good-natured, fellow jazz lover who at times seems to reciprocate her feelings.
Yet in the era of “player's trophy wives,” and Leslie's own God-sister turned status hunter Morgan (Paula Patton) engaged to Scott for all the wrong reasons, Leslie is as torn as the muscles she's supposed to fix over how to proceed when her feelings go against the societal standards of beauty being on the outside rather than from within, despite her father's fervent reminders that the lovely Latifah is as beautiful on the outside as the more traditionally gorgeous Morgan.
While I'd recommend this title even more than this week's other romantic comedy, Letters to Juliet, Sanaa Hamri's film is also sure to appeal to the same fanbase of viewers who enjoyed Maid in Manhattan even though I felt this one was more enjoyable and unique from the perspective of both an NBA and romantic comedy fan looking for more chemistry than the characters had in the aforementioned film. Additionally, Just Wright is also the type of romantic comedy we need more of in that it appeals equally to men with a healthy balance of love and basketball and likewise manages to reach all ages since it avoids the trendily crass jokes now so often sought out for rom-coms.
And while it's rare to see a physical therapist onscreen, it's truly refreshing and long overdue to see male romantic comedy leads – and particularly basketball players – given such humanistic, likable, and fully fleshed out characteristics to avoid stereotype or worse, just blending in with all of the other “princes” we're presented with on a weekly basis when the next repetitive “boy meets girl” movie hits the multiplex.
With a soulful and sexy performance by Common that's sure to make him a bigger star whether he's playing the piano or taking it to the hoop and another endearing turn by Latifah, Just Wright is the type of sleeper that reminds you it's summer movie season and in between the repetition, you must search to find out the sweet surprises that are just about perfect indeed.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.