When I was reading some random article by Joe Posnanski on SI.com, concerning one of the sillier baseball cards ever made, the story took a turn and went on about Yuniesky Betancourt, the Kansas City Royals player who has flashes of brilliance between prolonged lengths of ineptitude. This isn't worth mentioning by its lonesome in this review (particularly since it's for the wrong sport), but the article then went on to link (keep in mind, we're talking about Sports Illustrated, here) to a song by Cee-Lo Green, titled F**k You (only sans the asterisks). I was hooked. It was like the catchiest song OutKast or Gnarles Barkley could ever make...only it was actually good, and got better with repeated viewings.
I mention this, as the film 'Just Wright' literally could be summed up, edited, and made to fit this almost four-minute song (only, of course, with genders reversed). It may even benefit from the shortened runtime.
Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) is unlucky at love, due to being so perfectly in tune with the guys. They can hardly differentiate her from their normal running mates, so the chances of finding love have been slim at best. Her god-sister, Morgan (Paula Patton), is nothing like that, as she's a golddigger if ever there were one, charting out some silly scheme to try to land an NBA basketball player husband. Her target: Scott McKnight (Common), the two-time MVP, star point guard for the New Jersey Nets. Chance may have brought Leslie and Morgan into his life, but schemings may bring him the girl of his dreams...eventually.
Morgan lands her dream man/gravy train, but a left knee MCL tear threatens McKnight's future, right before he is up to be a free agent. It's up to Leslie, who works as a physical therapist at a local hospital, to get McKnight ready in time for the NBA playoffs, but her own feelings for the struggling star may complicate matters.
'Just Wright' may have a cheesy character-related play-on-words title, which is lame, but the film isn't anywhere near as bad as its moniker. In fact, at times, it's quite decent, a more modern twist on 'Cinderella.' It just draws too many traveling penalties for its own good, forgetting that sometimes the guy with the ball actually has to dribble, rather than just take the ball around for fun, and that's a shame, as this is one romantic-comedy that has plenty of interest in entertaining the guys in the audience as well as the ladies.
The NBA action, honestly, isn't all that bad. Sure, the Nets were a terrible team this last year, and haven't had a star point guard since Jason Kidd, but we'll ignore that. Common has had plenty of training, and he really does look the part on the court (even if, off the court, he looks damn tiny). Yes, he's running at a little over half-speed, compared to the pro players opposite him (Dwayne Wade, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, among others), but he can knock down shots when he wants to. It's like watching Kevin Costner in a baseball movie, and that's a compliment. Sure, the film doesn't properly portray the stop clock rule (in final two minutes of play, clock stops with each basket), and we see an awful lot of the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat (in fact, no other team is portrayed on the court, sans the exhibition All-Star Game), but the action is almost 100% accurate, so guys, you have your excuse to watch and not be bored.
The romantic angles of the film, though, are where things fall apart a bit. We have a classic love triangle story, where Cinderella is the underdog to win the prince, compared to her petty, beautiful competitor, but the way it's handled is wrong. Morgan is a character we're supposed to hate, and is not even given a single bit of humanity. She's pure evil, behind a pretty smile, and that makes it obvious for us to root against her. Somewhat predictable, really. Leslie, she's always the runner up, the back-up plan, so yeah, it's obvious we go for her, and she's such a sweetheart, we're led to believe anyone is a fool for not doing so. So, yes, when Morgan bails, due to the injury, we're given our green light, our chance to see the characters who are "supposed" to get together go for it. (And let's not pretend that's a spoiler. It's in the trailer, and is beyond obvious in the film).
And that's the problem. It would have been so much more fun if Leslie actually had to challenge Morgan for the affections of her dream guy. The film climaxes too soon, giving us everything the character ever wanted, only to have Morgan re-enter the mix, to challenge for McKnight again, the way it should have been in the second act. It's hard to have sympathy for McKnight, or any positive emotions, after seeing him abandon someone who cares about him, rather than his money, considering he seems completely oblvious to the fact the skinny girl is using him for the attached celebrity status.
'Just Wright' has a hard time maintaining its pace, and runs an overlong 100 minutes, creating a few too many "how much longer is left in the movie?" moments for me. Queen Latifah is a great lead for a romantic comedy, and she plays the sympathetic role to a "t." She has warmth, charisma, and non-stereotypical leading-lady looks. But 'Just Wright' gives us too much baggage, a little bit too much repetition on the court, and tries to be everything to everyone, rather than being a solid film. If shrunk down to its base elements, it wouldn't be a bad film, at all. Hell, chop out the entire third act and call it a day. The film would be short, yes, but at least it wouldn't drag.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Just Wright' comes to Blu-ray on a Region A locked BD50 disc, housed in a cut-out two disc eco-case.
There are a number of pre-menu trailers, including a Digital Copy promo, touting the portability of DC's, even playing them on a laptop, which would have to have a DVD drive to install the content anyways. Hmm...why not just use a DVD instead, if you're going to watch it on a bulky ol' computer, faulty logic ad? Also, there are trailers for 'Our Family Wedding,' 'Date Night,' and 'Why Did I Get Married Too?.'
'Just Wright' is given an AVC MPEG-4 encode (at 1080p) that is worthy of some praise. The film is in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, though the title sequence has random blocking, at times making it appear like an old non-anamorphic DVD (seriously, I hate the random repositioning of a film in a film. Takes me right out of it!), though the remainder of the film plays by the books.
Detail levels are strong, textures are lively and inviting, giving characters great definition and realism. The picture is quite deep, as well, with very strong, vibrant colors, making for a nice high def viewing with plenty of pop. But not all is perfect here. There's some random noise, some low lighting in scenes that creates suffocating blacks, a little bit of edge sharpening, and some very, very weak establishing shots. Still, with no apparent aliasing (despite plenty of opportunities with the clothing on display!) or artifacting issues, 'Just Wright' is an all-star Blu-ray release, even if it won't make it to the Hall of Fame.
'Just Wright' sounds just right on Blu-ray, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that is miles ahead of the genre norm. Dialogue is clear, and doesn't get drowned out, even in some of the more intense moments of soundtrack use. That's right, intense soundtrack use, with some real bass thump, and actual moments that get loud. The roar in this film helps get you into it, including some exaggerated bounces of the basketball having a hefty thud, while there's a tiny bit of rear ambience to try to immerse you. Better yet, directionality and dynamics are quite excellent! That said, this film is only active when it wants to be, and there are far too many moments that busy just doesn't sound busy enough. Watching the extras for this film, you can see how sparsely populated the NBA games are, and there doesn't seem to have been much effort to make them sound any more crowded in post. Still, I'm quite satisfied with the sound of this release.
The supplements for 'Just Wright' are small in quantity, but large in quality, as they are informative, in HD, and gave me exactly what I wanted to see discussed.