Published May 13, 2010So, it looks like sometime in between Cover Girl and Jenny Craig spots, her majesty, the easy, breezy Queen Latifah has delved into romantic-comedy territory with Brown Sugar scribe Michael Elliot's latest ode to Hallmark sentiments and living happily ever after. And it kind of works, in that jaded, guarded, world-weary Janeane Garofalo way. You can even frame Just Wright's plot around The Truth About Cats & Dogs by replacing dogs with basketball, Uma Thurman with Paula Patton and Ben Chaplin with Common.
Since women without men find comfort in career success in the world of celluloid, Latifah plays Leslie Wright, a skilled physical therapist that just bought her own house. Typically considered a non-sexual best friend by the Y-chromosome, Leslie spends most of her time with her superficial, single-minded god-sister Morgan (Patton), mocking her efforts to bag a professional basketball player. Enter Scott McKnight (Common), a rising NBA star with a laidback disposition and the love triangle forms.
With Patton caricatured as a single-minded monster and every cloying rom-com failsafe employed in each textbook plot development, no one would accuse this twee valentine of originality or subtlety. Characters overreact to partially heard conversations; the wise elderly knowingly predict the future; and people run out on their job to declare their love when simply waiting five minutes would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
But what this strangely charming and delightful love story understands is that the audience can recognize these clichés from a mile away, and it doesn't try to hide them. Instead, it finds comedy and whimsy in adhering to the template while avoiding much of the "sassy best friend" tedium and dating performance that plagues most movies of this nature.
Queen Latifah and Common have a natural chemistry, which is why watching their relationship blossom over mutual interests, believable conversations, playful jabs and logical demonstrations of affection engages. That's what makes this movie work; it's about people being people and getting to know each other, rather than reducing their feelings to goofy smiles and self-centred public displays. (Fox)