Next Day Air

May 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mike Epps, Wood Harris, Donald Faison
Directed by: Benny Boom (debut)
Written by: Blair Cobbs (debut)

While its style may scream of director Benny Boom’s music-video background, which, at times, breaks up much of the clichéd narrative into ingestible doses, the new drug comedy “Next Day Air” packs some pretty light weight.

In the film, Mike Epps (“Soul Men”) and Wood Harris (“Remember the Titans”) play Brody and Gutch, two petty thieves living in Philadelphia whose lives change the moment they open the door to receive a package from a local courier service.

Donald Faison (“Scrubs”) plays Leo, a pot-smoking, laid-back delivery truck driver who works for his mother and never takes his job seriously. Even when his infuriated mother threatens to fire him, Leo still works half-heartedly, which leads to a major mistake during one of his routes.

Instead of dropping off a hefty load of cocaine sent by California drug dealer Bodega Diablo (Emilio Rivera) to his Puerto Rican contact in Philly, Leo leaves the bricks of blow in the hands of Brody and Gutch who begin to dream of a new life after they discover what’s inside the cardboard box.

“God sent that,” Brody emphatically states. “I’m getting a new Escalade.”

Unfortunately for the duo, Bodega finds out the package never made it to its rightful owner when his dealer Jesus (Cisco Reyes) and his girlfriend Chita (Yasmin Deliz) nervously let him know it went missing.

The comedy caper (filled with a lifetime supply of stereotypes) all leads to a showdown between Bodega and his crew and Brody’s drug-dealing cousin who’s interested in buying the merchandise. Mos Def does his part as a couriering co-worker of Leo’s, but Boom and company miss out on any chance to build on his character for more than a couple of scenes.

While Epps is able to hold most of his comedic scenes together without much help from anyone else, “Next Day Air” decelerates after a quick start and completely stalls when debut screenwriter Blair Cobbs decides he wants to throw an awkward life lesson into the story followed by a psychotic ending that comes out of nowhere. A drug dealer pretending to be in “Reservoir Dogs” I can scoff at, but a drug dealer with a heart of gold is a bit too much to believe even in something as bipolar as “Next Day Air.”

Be Kind Rewind

February 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover
Directed by: Michele Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)
Written by: Michele Gondry (“The Science of Sleep”)

It’s always refreshing when you realize that filmmakers like Michel Gondry are still out there putting on a show in their own exceptional way. Originality and distinctiveness aren’t always on the same page, however, especially with Gondry’s newest dark comedy “Be Kind Rewind.”

In the film, video store employees Jerry (Black) and Mike (Def) realize that Jerry’s body has become charged by an electric tower and has caused all the tapes to erase. With the city proposing to demolish the store to build condos, the dorky duo sets out to remake all the films they destroyed. 

Recruiting some people from the neighborhood to help with the production, “Rewind” fast-forwards through a montage of amateur filmmaking including Jerry and Mike’s take on “Ghostbusters,” “Driving Ms. Daisy,” and “Rush Hour 2.” At the same time, director/writer Gondry seems to hit cruise control and turn “Rewind” into a film school project patched together at the last minute.

It’s a great idea for a movie, but Gondry thematic sense and timing is off. Where he hopes to speak on the importance of community and friendship, he can’t seem to nudge “Rewind” out of the impersonal narrative pothole it wallows in for a majority of the picture. Without any real magnetism (not counting what’s flowing through Jerry) between creator and characters, the film simply disconnects.