Is “Just Wright” Right for Audiences?
By Todd A. Smith
At first glance, “Just Wright” can be seen through advertisements as something of a mixture between a sports flick and a “chick” flick. Rapper-turned-actress Queen Latifah stars as Leslie Wright, a struggling physical therapist, who after a chance meeting at a New Jersey gas station meets NBA star Scott McKnight played by rapper Common.
Invited to a house party to celebrate McKnight’s birthday, Leslie’s quest for a man (specifically McKnight) is upended by her clever godsister Morgan (Paula Patton) who manipulates her personality in a quest to seem like the perfect mate for the community-minded athlete.
What makes “Just Wright” a good film that can be enjoyed by all, is that it is not simply just a basketball film or a romantic comedy, but a story of man’s insecurity, despite fame and fortune.
Many athletes or entertainers will attest to the fact that finding that special someone or finding purpose after the limelight is something that can cause sleepless nights. In the film, McKnight faces both battles while overcoming a devastating knee injury that could very easily cut his career short.
After proposing to Morgan and beginning negotiations on a new contact, Common’s character tears his PCL. When it becomes obvious that he has a hard road to recovery, Patton’s character leaves him and the engagement ring behind.
Determined to lift his spirits, Queen Latifah puts him through a grueling regimen to rebuild his knee, rebuild his career and rebuild his sinking self-esteem. What predictably develops is a true friendship and obvious attraction, which leads to the two becoming more than friends.
However, after the basketball star is able to return to the court for the New Jersey Nets, the gold-digging Morgan returns to his life and threatens what could be a stronger relationship with Leslie.
“Just Wright” scores because it is a realistic portrayal of the struggle that many professional athletes face when looking for that someone special. Here in Houston, girls flock to the Fonde Recreation Center in the summer to catch professional basketball players fine-tuning their game during the offseason.
Most importantly, it also shows that many of these athletes are not simply interested in the money and fame that comes from sports, but also the ability to give back to the community, a characteristic that is as much a part of McKnight personality as his skills on the court.
Furthermore, it shows the inspiration that comes from having that special someone in your life that can motivate you when the times get rough.
“Just Wright” fails only on the basketball court, where Common’s athletic skills do not quite match up with his up-and-coming acting career. Nevertheless, the film features cameo appearances by some of the NBA’s best from Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo.
The film, which is now in theaters everywhere, is the good film that it is because non-sports fans can also find inspiration from McKnight’s perseverance and all can find inspiration from the sight of true love.
As a result of strong performances by Queen Latifah, Common and Patton, “Just Wright,” may be just right for moviegoers from all walks of life.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.