Friday, March 5, 2021

Boogie Review: A Sports-Fueled Look At Dreams and Race

Taylor Takahashi	...	Alfred 'Boogie' Chin Taylour Paige	Taylour Paige	...	Eleanor Pop Smoke	Pop Smoke	...	Monk Pamelyn Chee	Pamelyn Chee	...	Mrs. Chin Perry Yung	Perry Yung	...	Mr. Chin Jorge Lendeborg Jr.	Jorge Lendeborg Jr.	...	Richie Mike Moh	Mike Moh	...	Melvin Domenick Lombardozzi	Domenick Lombardozzi	...	Coach Hawkins Alexa Mareka	Alexa Mareka	...	Alissa Eddie Huang	Eddie Huang	...	Jackie Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Steve Coulter	Steve Coulter	...	Mr. Richmond Dave East	Dave East		 Daymien Valentino	Daymien Valentino	...	Street Baller John Orantes	John Orantes	...	Cage Referee Sam Jules	Sam Jules	...	Todd

Release date: February 12, 2021
Running time: 89 minutes
Director: Eddie Huang 
Cast: Taylor Takahashi, Pamelyn Chee, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Dave East, Alexa Mareka, Mike Moh, Taylour Paige, Perry Yung 

The film follows a young Chinese American basketball phenom Boogie (Takahashi) who struggles to balance the expectations of his immigrant family with his own dreams of becoming a player for the NBA. 

Margaret Odette	...	Principal Kodak Ben Davis	Ben Davis	...	Josh Mister Fitzgerald	Mister Fitzgerald	...	David Claire Hsu	Claire Hsu	...	Young Mrs Chin Zach Mellado	Zach Mellado	...	Midtown Tech #37 Ed Aristone	Ed Aristone	...	Officer Campos Edmond Laryea	Edmond Laryea	...	Duke Basketball Scout Roman Perez	Roman Perez	...	Basketball player Tommy Bo	Tommy Bo	...	Terry (as Tommy Bo Hansana) Matt Gorsky	Matt Gorsky	...	TBD Coach Nathaniel Levin	Nathaniel Levin	...	Basketball Player Alexandra Berti	Alexandra Berti	...	Student Michael Durodola	Michael Durodola	...	Mike Ty Pauley	Ty Pauley	...	David Anthony Ferrara	Anthony Ferrara	...	Basketball fan (uncredited) Samantha Kudler	Samantha Kudler	...	High school student (uncredited) Judith Moy	Judith Moy	...	High School Student (uncredited)
Although Boogie focuses a lot on Chinese culture, it is a distinctly Chinese American film.  This is made clear from the first beats of the movie, with its wonderful hip hop soundtrack that hits you at the start and comes in and out throughout the film.  Boogie mostly follows the namesake character and his family, as they sacrifice, push, and dream of their son's future success.  I really liked seeing all the scenes with the family because they helped to highlight Boogie's own struggles.  He is often the most free when he is alone with his friends, but his personality completely changes when when is with his family.  This is probably a common feature among teenagers but definitely showed itself more due to Boogie's Chinese roots.

And the movie touches on a lot more subject matter than your typical coming of age story.  It blends the responsibilities and expectations of the two cultures effortlessly.  Boogie feels like a real character who is trying to come to grips with the two worlds he is in.  He keeps his Chinese traditions and duties, while still rebelling and being decidedly American.  There is an early scene where home is discussed and Boogie questions why it would be anywhere other than here (America).  This type of mindset is a perfect encapsulation of the new generation of Asian Americans growing up (and apart) from the landscape and traditions of their own families.   

But a movie about a rising basketball player must get the sports side of things right and Boogie does that as well.  The movie has some exciting basketball action, and Takahashi can definitely hold his own on the court.  But as I said, Boogie deals with more than just sports; it deals with life, expectations, and dreams.  And in that respect it feels very real.  Boogie's dream is not different than any other high school phenom, and in Boogie, the main character has all the talent to make that happen.  But the film also explores the dreams and expectations of several characters, as well as their success and failure to achieve those dreams.  It doesn't happen often, but when you get to see the conflicts that Boogie is going through reflected on the other characters it is quite enlightening.  

If Boogie bricks some layups, it is in some of the line delivery and the end of the story.  Some of the lines just do not feel natural, and I am not sure if it is the writing or the characters that are the problem.  There is plenty of fantastic dialogue and insights in this movie, so these one off air balls can be forgiven.  But the ending of the film also feels anticlimactic, and I would have greatly appreciated a scene or two to highlight what happened.  But don't let that dissuade you from this really wonderful film.

Boogie scores some easy points with its realistic setting and wonderful characters and uses sports to explore issues of race, dreams, and realities.   

Watch it.

Produced by  Josh Bratman	...	producer Rafael Martinez	...	executive producer Josh McLaughlin	...	producer Shane Munguia	...	co-producer Michael Tadross	...	producer Charbel Youssef	...	co-producer    Directed by  Eddie Huang	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Eddie Huang
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Boogie is in theaters on March 5, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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