‘Boogie’ shoots its shot

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Boogie (2021)

Directed by Eddie Huang

The melodrama is thick in “Boogie,” the directorial debut from “Fresh Off the Boat” author Eddie Huang. Like the groundbreaking, semi-autobiographical network television series Huang produced, “Boogie” is proud of its Asian American culture. But it’s not a comedy, despite its jokes. The 90-minute coming-of-age drama finds basketball phenom Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi) transferring to a prep school to advance his dream of playing in the NBA. The problem is, he doesn’t even have much interest from colleges yet. His dad (Perry Yung), fresh out of jail, is Boogie’s biggest fan and makeshift manager. But he’s violent toward almost everyone else. Boogie’s mother (Pamelyn Chee), a bit controlling in her own right, thinks Boogie might have better luck with a manager that’s not his dad. Boogie struggles to succeed under the weight of his parents’ expectations—not to mention the stress of a new girlfriend (Taylour Paige) and a best friend (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) who has his own opinions about what Boogie should be doing.

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Boogie is a bit of an asshole, which impedes our ability to root for him. Still, Taylor Takahashi pulls it off. He won’t be winning any awards, but he and the rest of the cast do what they need to do. The acting isn’t this movie’s weak spots, but the writing is. One of the plots that pushes this movie forward is a hotly anticipated game between Boogie’s team and the best team in New York City, led by a player named Monk (played by the recently deceased rapper Pop Smoke). But is this even how basketball recruitment works? Boogie and his parents talk like only the best player in NYC has a shot at getting a college scholarship. Even if his team is the second-best in the biggest city in the country, wouldn’t he have a shot at a scholarship? It all seemed a bit suspect to me, hinging the main character’s success on one game like it was trying to be “Hoosiers” or something. It also bungled the ending when it got to it, in my opinion. It’s unsatisfactory without having to be. “Boogie” probably won’t stay in the collective memory very long, but I commend it for its diverse cast and multicultural story.

5.5/10

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