REVIEW: ‘Boogie’ is a bust

I’m a big fan of basketball and really excited for March Madness.

That didn’t help me like this movie any better.

“Boogie” tells the story of Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi), a senior who just started at a new high school to play basketball in the hopes that he will get recruited to a Division I school with a full scholarship. As he starts out at the new school, he finds himself a new friend in Richie (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and  a romantic interest in  Eleanor (Taylour Paige).

While he’s great on the court, though, Alfred is also rather cocky and isn’t exactly a team player. This doesn’t make his parents all too happy, and it only leads to more tension since his mom and dad don’t see specifically eye-to-eye on the direction of his basketball career.Despite the issues, though, Alfred is determined to push forward to his dream of the NBA.

“Boogie” has aspects of a sports movie, a family drama and a coming of age story, and it basically fails at all of these. The writing just doesn’t hold up with any elements of the movie, with the sports moments feeling cliche’d, the main romance coming across as awkward (and not in a cute, teen way) and the family situations often being over dramatic.

What really sinks “Boogie,” though, is the titular character himself. Alfred is never a particularly likable protagonist, and he doesn’t really have much of an arc, either.

boogieblog2
Courtesy Focus Features.

By the end of the film, a few good things happen in his life, but it doesn’t feel like his character turned a corner, learned very much about who he is or carries a different perspective. Characters who start out like Alfred can indeed work, a prime example being Adonis in “Creed.” But Alfred, other than maybe playing a little less selfish basketball, never leaves square one.

The performance from Takahashi doesn’t help the situation much. It’s understandable that the character was supposed to be in a sort of “I’m a teenager and I don’t care about anything” phase, but there’s a distinct lack of passion. There’s not a fire in Alfred’s eyes, and whether it was because of Takahashi or the direction from Eddie Huang, it’s a clear problem.

The supporting cast is a bit hit or miss. Perry Yung and Pamelyn Chee are fine as Alfred’s parents. However, the late Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson is put in far too generic of an antagonist role to really have an impact.

Also not helping things is the execution of the basketball scenes. The sports moments should at least offer some excitement, yet they’re somewhat boring here. Even the final game where it comes down to the final plays is rather forgettable in comparison to others in the genre.

Additionally, the way the movie handles its story in relation to college basketball is a bit odd. This is more insider stuff, but there are about 350 Division I college basketball programs in the country, and this film acts like Alfred couldn’t get a scholarship anywhere.

If he sent his tape around, he’d probably get an offer. It may not be in a power conference, but he’d certainly get an offer. It was kind of hard to buy this aspect.

“Boogie” had some potential, but its execution is off. It earns a few slight points for bringing insight into Chinese-American culture, but that’s about all it has going for it. This one is a miss. 1.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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