19 May 2009

Next Day Air

So, my parents and I were looking for a good Sunday afternoon movie, and I'd been seeing a lot of posters around for Next Day Air, which I was drawn to because of the cast, premise, etc*. So I was really baffled to see that it had gotten mostly terrible reviews. I say mostly, because there were a couple outliers, critics who described it as clever and entertaining. What was intriguing about this was that the critics who viewed the film favorably were the NYTimes and Roger Ebert**. So we decided to check it out.

So, it's not a great movie. But it's an entertaining movie. Hilarious at times, generally amusing, some hardcore stylized violence and bad-assness. It definitely drags at times when it really ought to be a fast-paced movie based on the plot and overall aesthetic, and some of the jokes don't work as well as you'd like them to. When it tries to be a little more serious, it comes off kind of dumb. But it makes up for it by having lots of sympathetic characters. Interestingly enough, all but one of them are basically good guys who are rather inadvertently pitted against each other, which is kind of interesting. So you really like them all and enjoy spending time with them, even if you're just hanging out playing videogames and talking shit. It kind of reminded me of Smokin' Aces, in that you mostly like the movie because of the people in it. Though Next Day Air has the more complex plot, Smokin' Aces definitely wins out on pacing. But ultimately, both are enjoyable films that one is inclined to rate 3.5 stars.

*One reviewer pointed out that it's sort of disingenuous to put Mos Def front center of the poster when he has one of the smallest parts in the film. This may be because white people love Mos Def. Or because he probably is the biggest name in the film - Donald Faison is cool and all but Scrubs sort of cost him his cred, and Wood Harris is only exciting if you're into The Wire (which you should be), and most everyone else sort of looks familiar but you have no idea what their names are. 

**So looking around now, there's something really weird going on with these reviews. Rotten Tomato gives the movie a 19 - pretty dismal. Most of the reviews tear the movie to shreds - it's boring, it's too violent, the jokes aren't funny, etc. But then the more "intellectual" reviewers - Ebert, NYTimes, Nathan Rabin in the Onion - praise it as "a surprisingly tight economical thriller" that "nears neo-Blaxploitation perfection" with characters who are "almost poetic in their clockwork dialogue". Homeboy from the NYTimes compares the film to Wu-Tang in its hey-day. Which kind of gives you pause, like he's trying a little too hard. So you start to wonder. Then Rabin points out "the absence of Caucasians in speaking roles". And perhaps this is the missing piece of the puzzle for this mysterious reviewer situation. Because the movie, to my mind, is nowhere near as bad as some reviewers say, but nowhere near as good as others do. And I can't help but wonder if the aforementioned "lack of Caucasians" doesn't have something to do with that. I don't really wanna read too much into it, it just seems somewhat curious and noteworthy. It could just be that film reviewers really like to be either wholeheartedly positive or negative, and this kind of in-between film just baffles them. I dunno. I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, now I want to see it. The gap between the good and bad reviews on metacritic is also ridiculously broad and, considering that neither end of the spectrum appears to be overpopulated with obvious assholes and/or idiots, I feel obliged to formulate my own opinion to throw it into the mix.