Late actor/rapper Pop Smoke, director Eddie Huang and actor Taylor Takahashi (L-R) on the set of their film “Boogie” (Photo Credit: Nicole Rivelli/Focus Features).
‘Boogie’ Has Elements of Basketball Forefathers
In the pantheon of basketball films, several films stand out like “Love and Basketball,” “Glory Road,” “Above the Rim” and “White Men Can’t Jump.”
Therefore, when a filmmaker makes a basketball film after the 1990s or early 2000s, the bar to reach can become too high to clear.
However, “Boogie” contains elements of “Above the Rim” and “Love and Basketball” and is a delightful surprise, and worth a watch after “Coming 2 America” of course.
In the film “Boogie,” Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi) faces a dilemma that many high school athletes face.
Boogie has dreams of making the National Basketball Association (NBA).
However, first he has to make a college basketball roster via a full athletic scholarship.
The problem that confronts Boogie is the stereotypes that exist when it comes to Asian American basketball players.
Sure, Yao Ming broke barriers when the Houston Rockets selected him number one overall in the 2002 NBA Draft.
But as Mr. Chin (Perry Yung) tells his son, he does not consider Yao as Asian American because he is not.
Yao was a Chinese citizen playing basketball in Houston.
On the other hand, Jeremy Lin seemingly broke the glass ceiling for Asian American ballers with the “Linsanity” phenomenon.
However, many Asian basketball fans hated on “Linsanity” because Lin gave the credit for his success with the New York Knicks to Jesus Christ and not his Asian heritage.
Mr. Chin schools Boogie on Asian American sports heroes like Michael Chang who won a tennis grand slam back in the 1980s.
Via these lessons on Asian American sports heroes, Mr. Chin tries to instill pride in Boogie and what his success on the court could do for his people.
Furthermore, Mr. Chin and Mrs. Chin (Pamelyn Chee) want Boogie to succeed by getting a full basketball scholarship so that he can be assured a bright future despite the fact that his family is struggling financially because of his father’s past incarcerations.
But Boogie has to make changes during his senior year if he is to land a coveted basketball scholarship because at the beginning of the school year he has no offers.
Mr. Chin makes Boogie transfer to City Prep so that he can play against Brooklyn’s best player, Monk (played by late rapper, Pop Smoke).
If Boogie can hold his own against Monk and other top-rated talent in New York City, maybe he can crash the glass ceiling and become an Asian American star on the collegiate level, which would almost guarantee him a shot in the NBA.
But before Boogie can adjust to a new basketball team, he has to adjust to a new school and new classmates.
Boogie is not a dumb kid, as evident by his enrollment in advanced placement English.
However, the young high school star is troubled because of the stress at home and the pressure to make life a little easier for his struggling family.
His English teacher Mr. Richmond (Steve Coulter, “Hangman”) has assigned the novel “The Catcher in the Rye” and has given his students the assignment of determining their favorite coming-of-age-tale.
The coming-of-age background resonates with Boogie because he is trying to come of age in a time in which people are pulling him in all directions and he does not know what his basketball future holds.
He does know that he has a great friend, classmate and teammate in Richie (Jorge Lendeborg Jr., “Bumblebee”).
Furthermore, there is a girl who catches his eye from the first day in Mr. Richmond’s English class.
Boogie has his eye on his classmate, Eleanor (Taylour Paige, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “White Boy Rick”).
Eleanor has eyes for Boogie too.
However, she just wishes Boogie would stop using his eyes to stare at her so much.
But like many teenagers can attest, a girl can help one reach their goals or she can become a distraction and ruin everything that a person has worked for.
Although “Boogie” is not that heavy of a film, it comes out at the right time in history because of all of the anti-Asian racism infesting America as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.
Asian Americans have faced blame for the virus.
And although, culturally, Asians have usually not spoken out about mistreatment, the tide is turning and many Asian American leaders and citizens have begun to take their experiences with racism publicly.
Even basketball stars like Lin have spoken about how opponents have called him “coronavirus” on the court.
As a result of the current times, “Boogie” resonates because the movie infuses Asian culture into the film, despite being labeled as a sports film.
While “Boogie” will resonate with basketball fans and those wanting to learn more about the Asian culture, the film will also connect with hip-hop heads.
Watching the late rapper Pop Smoke on the big screen will cause many rap fans to wonder how big of a star would he have become if not for the bullets of a gun.
He did a decent, and believable, job in his first and only movie role.
Furthermore, hip-heads will recognize radio personality Charlemagne tha God playing a basketball recruiter from Georgetown University.
Unfortunately, the basketball scenes in “Boogie” do not look believable because it is obvious that the actors dunked the ball on a shorter rim.
Furthermore, at times the film borrows a little too much from “Love and Basketball” with the relationship between Boogie and Eleanor.
Additionally, the film borrows a little too much from “Above the Rim” with the street ball element.
Regardless, “Boogie” is worth checking out, if a person is brave enough to enter a move theater, and that is after they’ve already watched “Coming 2 America.”