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Single-girl anxiety causes Kat Ellis (Messing) to hire a male escort (Mulroney) to pose as her boyfriend at her sister's wedding. Her plan, an attempt to dupe her ex-fiancé, who dumped her a couple years prior, proves to be her undoing.
Leslie Wright is a straight-shooting physical therapist who gets the gig of a lifetime working with NBA All-Star Scott McKnight. All is going well until Leslie finds herself falling for Scott, forcing her to choose between the gig and the tug-of-war inside her heart. Oblivious to her romantic overtures, McKnight is instead drawn to the affections of Leslie's childhood friend Morgan, who has her sights set on being an NBA trophy wife. Is Leslie destined to play the role of "best friend" forever or will Scott finally see that what he always wanted is right in front of him? Written by
Fox Searclight Pictures
Latifah does all she can, but the weak material and lack of sparkle really works against her
Both Leslie Wright and cousin Morgan Alexander are big Nets fans; however while Leslie is a fan of the team, Morgan is more interested in landing herself a husband and becoming a NBA-wife. When Leslie chances upon a meeting at a gas station with loyal Nets point guard Scott McKnight, she gets an invite to his birthday party and of course Morgan springs into action. Morgan has the looks to capture her man but Leslie appears to have more in common with him. When Scott gets injured, Leslie is employed as live-in physiotherapist supporting his attempts to save his NBA career.
I didn't expect Just Wright to be a great film but I was happy to meet it on its own genre ground and play by its rules. The reason for this was my ongoing interest in Common's acting career; this is perhaps founded in bitterness since he has only done one album since he started focusing on the acting (and it was rubbish) so I'm keen to see the projects that make the loss (IMO) of such a great artist worthwhile. Since he was the leading man here I thought perhaps this would be the one. The problems with it start immediately as the plot is overly messy, getting a lot of establishment done very quickly meeting Scott, proposing to Morgan, getting injured, getting Leslie into the job; all work done just to get to the "once they spend time together they find one another" part of the film that we all know is coming. This rather serious and rapid stuff gives the first half of the film an overly earnest air that it doesn't warrant, can't carry and never escapes.
The second half of the film see the film become about the professional couple of Leslie and Scott and this focuses on them being together and finding a chemistry. It is obvious and a bit cheesy but it is what the whole film should have been like (and the film be only 90 minutes long as well). However this is not to say that this part is particularly good either the main problem is that the material is not particularly inspired, nor is it particularly charming. It is this second quality that is missing most because this sort of film needs charm to make the formula work. Sadly the material doesn't produce it and the chemistry between the two leads is not all it should be.
This is not down to Latifah though, because she works her sparkle for every last drop she literally gives 100% in every scene and it does show. Common, on the other hand, misjudges his material partly because he has to deal with more of the "earnest plotting" in the first half. He carries his character too serious and too earnestly to get the mood right. He works "OK" with Latifah but the chemistry just doesn't work as well as it should and it is partly his fault. Patton looks good despite having a terrible character who is all about being a plot device in the weaker first half. Meanwhile the cast is packed with faces from black entertainment (Rashad, Grier) and lots of NBA players showing up presumably to make the film more marketable thanks to their presence.
Just Wright does start to get a bit better in the second half when the messy and serious plot setting is done and Latifah's sheer work-rate starts to win the viewer over, but she cannot do it alone and indeed she doesn't. It is not an awful film but it should have been more formula focused, stayed closely to the genre and have delivered the material to match the effort put in by Latifah. Sadly this is another film that makes Universal Mind Control feel like an even worse album than it was.
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