Just Wright (2010)

Rated: PG for some suggestive material and brief language.
Length: 100 minutes
Grade: DB-BC+=C-
Budget: $12 million
Box Office: $27 million (22 U.S., 5 DVD)

Written by: Michael Elliot (Brown Sugar, Like Mike)
Directed by: Sanaa Hamri (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2)
Starring: Queen Latifah, Common, and Paula Patton
With: Pam Grier, Phylicia Rashad, James Pickens Jr., Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, Rashad Lewis, Jalen Rose, and Marv Albert.

An injured NBA superstar is torn between his gorgeous golddigger fiancée and her lifelong friend, an overweight but otherwise wonderful physical therapist.

Entertainment Value: D
It’s possible that this movie is just not my style, but this was pretty bad. I wanted it to be better, but it wasn’t. The writing was weak, the plot is utterly predictable, and the acting is thin to the point of non-existence. Every moment of this movie felt contrived, and not even contrived in a good way. That being said, be sure to read below what I have to say about art value.

Superficial Content: B-
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sex/Nudity B-, Violence A, Language B-
This is marginal for a PG movie, but it really didn’t have to be. There is one rather glaring outburst of profanity (BS), and a couple of minor ones (D). Characters drink socially, but discuss “getting toasted.” Sex is probably the major concern, with several innuendos, discussions of “bagging a man,” and one longish scene of Latifah in bed presumably naked. I’d say PG-10, but the good news is that no kids are going to care enough about this movie to watch it anyhow.

Significant Content: B
Some women are predators every bit as much as men. Other women are just good women, and they are the ones who will make the best wives even if they aren’t superhot. Wisdom is knowing the difference between them. Also, there’s an oblique criticism of “The Secret” thrown in for fun.

Artistic/Thought Value: C+
Okay, here I need to talk about a very difficult subject as it relates to this movie. Objectively speaking, this is a pretty bad movie. As I mentioned above, the script, plot, and acting are all low quality compared to most movies. That being said, this is a relatively clean movie portraying basically good versus evil in relationships and marketed specifically to black audiences. As such, it deserves credit for being such a refreshing contrast to the vast majority of filth and foolishness marketed to black audiences. Having watched a number of “black” films in recent years, I can tell you that they usually aren’t very good, sort of like all too many “Christian” films. But to make matters worse, they’re showing and telling all the wrong things to a community which, as a whole, needs much better guidance. So here’s a movie with better role models and (mostly) without the filth, which I admire. I think the presence of big name black actors like Phylicia Rashad, Pam Grier, and James Pickens Jr. plus all the NBA stars reinforces what they think of the importance of movies like this. It isn’t great by any stretch, but it should get some credit for simply choosing to be so unlike most “black” films in this regard. Art for a particular audience needs to be art which that audience will actually consume. In that sense, this is at least decent art. The $22 million certainly wasn’t generated from white audiences.

Discussion Questions:
~Morgan wants to marry an NBA player, and she says that she intends to treat man-hunting as a job to get what she wants. Aside from the ethical problems with her in particular, do you think spouse-huntig should be treated like a job? Does your answer stay the same for men as for women?
~When Morgan reacts to being criticized for leaving Scott, she says “we can’t all be like Saint Leslie Wright.” Do you think wicked people actually believe they are morally deficient or do they really believe that virtue is a kind of defect to be scoffed at like this?
~Why is Leslie friends with Morgan? Do you consider it a moral defect that she stays friends with someone so vain and manipulative?
~Scott has built his entire life around being a basketball star. How does he handle it when that might end? How much of a man’s place in this world is based on what he does for a living? In what ways is this good and in what ways is it dangerous?
~Do you think it’s an advantage or a disadvantage for a woman to be beautiful if her goal is to find a good man? What about being overweight? What about for a man to be successful, handsome, or wealthy…or not?
Overall Grade: C-
A potentially significant “black” movie, but not much of a movie in comparison with most comedy-romances.

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