Armed with an impish grin, the erstwhile lady rapper Queen Latifah pulled off one of the smoothest transitions to an acting career in the history of hip-hop stars, mainly because she’s always been savvy enough to showcase her unique brand of kindhearted confidence. Not so in this allegedly romantic comedy, in which Her Royal Highness stars as Leslie Wright (get it?), a tomboyish physical therapist saddled with a lemon of a love life. Though she’s a fierce New Jersey Nets fan, it’s her conniving Black Barbie of a godsister (Patton) who nabs the heart of the team’s all-star player (Common). Leslie, meanwhile, lands the gig as his trainer—at least until a busted knee endangers his contract and everyone’s true colors are naturally revealed.
Although it’s replete with solid supporting players and even stronger goodwill, Just Wright buckles under the burden of its pure intentions. Too many auxiliary, moralizing plot points and characters are picked up, only to be suddenly dropped. (As the resident moms, Pam “Coffy” Grier and Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad are criminally underused.) Common proves surprisingly convincing as a hoops dynamo, though less so when trying to rustle up sexual chemistry with Queen Latifah; their one love scene is notably—and mercifully—short. But the real pain is in watching the always-likable Queen stuck in a homegirl version of a Cathy comic. It may tote out a good line or two about keeping it real, but too much of this love triangle rings false.—Lisa Rosman
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