Alfred "Boogie" Chin (Taylor Takahashi) has what it takes to be great. So does the film, "Boogie," except that it never rises above the clichés of the coming-of-age underdog sports genre that it seems to revel in.
Writer/Director Eddie Huang's "Boogie" suffers not from being a bad movie, but not being unique enough to stand out in a sea of similar films.
Boogie is an inner-city teen with an extraordinary amount of raw talent on the basketball court. He is recruited to play for a cruddy private school, only so that he can take on a rival star, to boost his exposure to hopeful college recruits. There's no "i" in team but there is one in "Boogie," and the star athlete has a hard time sharing anything that he's been given.
Boogie may be solid on the court, but off the court he's failing. He clashes with his new coach (Domenick Lombardozzi) and his agent (Mike Moh) has big plans for him. He squabbles with his parents. He's extremely jealous with his girlfriend (Taylour Paige), showing that Boogie is not at all confident in himself...quite the opposite actually.
Sports movies usually build towards something epic, and in "Boogie," it's the big showdown with Boogie's rival, Monk, a character played by the late Bashar Jackson, aka the rapper/singer Pop Smoke, who was murdered in 2020. For those that knew who Pop Smoke was, his presence looms large over this film and is a distracting force. But the film goes where you know it will eventually go, rendering their eventual showdown a bit useless.
"Boogie" is the rare underdog character in that we aren't necessarily asked to root for him. The result is a journey where we may be interested in its final destination, but we don't feel too invested either way. That's too bad, because "Boogie" could have been a star.
Run Time: 1 hour 27 minutes.
Starring: Taylor Takahashi, Steve Coulter, Taylour Paige, Domenick Lombardozzi, Mike Moh, Bashar Jackson.
Written and Directed by Eddie Huang (feature-film debut).
"Boogie" is available on Friday, March 5th, 2021.
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