Thursday, March 4, 2021

Another take on basketball dreams

Boogie, a Chinese-American kid growing up in Queens, NY, dreams of becoming a basketball star. In its outline -- Boogie -- sounds like every other movie that mixes sports and coming-of-age tropes in search of uplift. But Boogie distinguishes itself by setting its story in a multi-ethnic environment where the melting pot sometimes comes to a boil. Director Eddie Huang also infuses his movie with immigration aspiration -- not only of Boogie, a.k.a.,  Alfred Chin (Taylor Takahashi) -- but of his parents, a calculating Mom (Pamelyn Chee) and a single-minded Dad (Perry Yung). Early on, we learn that Boogie's parents want him to land a full college scholarship and then transition to the NBA. Highly competitive, Boogie finds a rival in Monk (Pop Smoke), a black basketball player with major skill and rep to match. Boogie's best friend (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) tries to steady his volatile, self-absorbed pal. As if all that weren't enough, Huang adds a relationship in which Boogie falls for Eleanor (Taylour Paige), a young woman with a mind of her own.  Author of a popular memoir entitled Fresh Off the Boat, Huang falls short when it comes to telling a compelling sports story or delivering a heart-felt drama about cultural and parental pressures faced by a driven teenager. Boogie has a bit of both but not enough of either.

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