By Stina Chyn | May 16, 2010

For the male protagonist in a sports film, the female of the species and a romance sub-plot either breaks or makes athletic accomplishment.  However understanding she may be, unless she imparts unconditional support and wisdom, she is still an obstacle and distraction.  For the female lead in a romantic comedy, the career-driven male can stymie or catalyze erotic ascension.  Luckily for Scott McKnight (Common) and Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah), “Just Wright” (Sanaa Hamri) is constructed in such a way that neither genre tendency becomes overly burdensome.

Part sports film, part love story, “Just Wright” ropes the viewer along on a mighty funny tale of what could happen after a chance encounter between boy and girl.  Scott McKnight is a basketball star for the NBA team the New Jersey Nets and has just become a free agent.  Leslie Wright is a Nets-loving physical therapist who cannot escape her “guy’s gal” lot in romantic life.  Their acquaintanceship quickly moves to potential extended family territory as Scott grows enamored with and proposes to Leslie’s god-sister Morgan (Paula Patton).

Dynamics change after Scott injures his left PCL (posterior cruciate ligament).  Mr. Two-Time MVP’s future in professional basketball is suddenly coasting downward; his fiancée bails because she can’t handle the uncertainty (and retail therapy fails to assuage her fears of not marrying a big shot NBA player).  Aside from his mother (Phylicia Rashad), the only person Scott can turn to for help is Leslie.  Combining motivational speaking and rehabilitation exercises, she has the Nets’ star back in playing condition in time for the seventh game of the playoffs.  Arguably astonished by her ex-fiance’s comeback, Morgan re-enters the picture (no pun intended) and unknowingly threatens the nascent affections brewing between Scott and Leslie.

Hamri’s film ties together the bare essentials of the sports film and the romantic comedy.  Scott endures a montage sequence worth of self-doubt and self-loathing, just like any athlete would in a similar situation.  If you can’t play, you don’t get paid.  Meanwhile, Leslie is biding her time in the basketball film portion of the plot so that the conventions of her narrative can remind her that she deserves to and must fall in love.

“Just Wright” may not feature enough basketball game-play to satisfy the sports junkie, but if you’re curious at all to see Common take to the court with the likes of Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade, the film is well worth it.

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