Like many women who saw the trailer for Just Wright, I was giddy with excitement to see Queen Latifah’s Leslie Wright strut her stuff as a sexy, plus-sized woman. When I saw that Common would be in this film, I almost had a heart attack. Just looking at the trailer, which gave the entire movie away in 30 seconds, I knew I would enjoy the movie.
In Just Wright, Leslie is a physical therapist at a senior citizens’ facility, living with her parents and squatting godsister, Morgan Alexander (played by Paula Patton). Due to a chance meeting and a chance injury, Leslie finds herself living in the mansion of her favorite New Jersey Nets player, Scott McKnight (Common), helping him rehabilitate from an injury. In a true rom com plotline, Leslie falls for Scott and Scott falls for Morgan, then Leslie.
Screenwriter Michael Elliot found a way to make a romantic comedy that will satisfy the men and women in the audience, equally. He shows Leslie striking out in the dating world, who is not seen as a possible girlfriend because she’s really just one of the guys. He also shows just enough game to keep the men from falling into a deep sleep during the film. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Bobby Simmons Jr. and Jalen Rose all make an appearance.
Sanaa Hamri, who directed this film and many others, is considered a rare find in Hollywood: a black woman who is a director, producer and writer. Hamri has created a film that’s visually appealing, which is her main staple. Unfortunately, she spent a little too much time on star power and not enough time making sure the characters mesh well with each other. None of the characters had much chemistry between each other, especially the lead characters.
Common, who has been slowly making himself a household name as an actor, is not only super nice to look at, but is also a fine actor. He actually shows range in Just Wright. In his other films, he’s usually the strong, silent, menacing type. It’s nice to see him branch out. With a few more films, Common has the potential to be one of the greats.
The lovable Latifah as Leslie seems to essentially play herself. Latifah always has an audience rooting for her before she opens her mouth. Unfortunately, she and Common don’t have enough romantic chemistry.
Their characters, Leslie and Scott, come off as best buds, not lovers. Some of that is due to the fact that Latifah and Common have been friends for years, which translated on the screen.
Likewise, Patton’s Morgan is the hot and sexy vixen who steals Scott’s heart away first. Common seems really interested in her, but that interest becomes hollow as the film progresses.
Phylicia Rashad and Pam Grier pull mom duty as Ella McKnight (Scott’s mom) and Janice Wright (Leslie’s mom), respectively. Both are pretty good as moms, giving tough love and understanding when needed.
Speaking of parents, James Pickens Jr. plays Lloyd Wright, Leslie’s dad; an ideal father because he keeps reassuring his daughter of her beauty.
Other actors of note are Laz Alonso as Mark Matthews and Mehcad Brooks as Angelo Bembrey, although they are underused in this film. Mark breaks Leslie’s heart at the end of a great date. Angelo is Scott’s teammate.
Just Wright speaks to single women working hard to make a career for themselves and trying to find love in men who are star struck by beautiful women with shallow intentions. Lack of chemistry aside, the real moral of the story, which I love, is be yourself, no matter what. Even if the man you want sees you as a friend at first, if it’s meant to be, it could be Just Wright.