Music video and Something New director Sanaa Hamri returns to the romantic comedy world with Just Wright, teaming Queen Latifah up with fellow Hip Hop head Common for what should have been Love & Basketball meets Brown Sugar.
Latifah plays a physical therapist having problems meeting a guy who sees her as anything other than homegirl material. And to make matters worse, her best friend (Paula Patton) spends all of her time and her considerable physical resources in pursuit of big game (aka NBA players). Yet, when our good girl meets the star point guard (Common) of the New Jersey Nets, you know he’s going to befriend Latifah’s good girl and bed the diva before coming to his senses.
It would have been smart to mix things up a bit, since even the most casual moviegoer has seen this play run 1,000 times, and that’s what made Brown Sugar so special. That film used Hip Hop and a fan’s love for the music and the culture as a metaphor for a relationship. That type of thought has been incorporated into music videos as well. Take F. Gary Gray’s award-winning spin on the Outkast hit “Ms. Jackson,” which compares complex relationship dynamics to repairing and maintaining a broken home.
It’s that level of narrative genius that’s missing from Hamri’s film, even down to the basketball sequences, which lack the organic feel of real game footage. If not for an engaging performance from Latifah, Just Wright would have been all wrong. Grade: D+