NEXT DAY AIR
*1/2 (out of 5)
May 8, 2009
Donald Faison as LEO
Mike Epps as BRODY
Wood Harris as GUCH
Omari Hardwick as SHAVOO
Emilio Rivera as BODEGA
Darius McCrary as BUDDY
Cisco Reyes as JESUS
Yasmin Deliz as CHITA
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Directed by: Benny Boom
BY KEVIN CARR
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It has been said that imitation is the finest form of flattery. I don’t know if I buy this in all respects. From a filmmaking perspective, I hardly think that Roger Corman was flattering all the better filmmakers by cashing in with pale imitations of their work.
Similarly, I really don’t think that director Benny Boom is engaging in flattery of better, more refined filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie with his bipolar misfire “Next Day Air.”
The film is meant to be a hip and energetic tale of gangland misadventures. Donald Faison plays Leo, a package delivery man constantly high on pot. His buddy Eric (Mos Def) is the star of the delivery service even though he’s constantly stealing merchandise he’s supposed to deliver. One day, Leo accidentally delivers a package of high-quality cocaine bricks to the wrong apartment. The small time thugs (Mike Epps and Wood Harris) who end up with the coke decide to move the merchandise on their own to make some extra cash.
However, things start to fall apart when the original recipient and his girlfriend try to track down the lost package. The high-level drug dealer steps in and threatens to bring bloody violence to the small time thugs as well as Leo, who was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A movie like “Next Day Air” makes me appreciate the other films that are made effectively in this style. Sadly, the movie is truly an imitation because it lacks the quality and finesse that this sort of genre usually has.
Boom really has two films that have been crammed into the same package. The movie could have worked as a standard comedy. Donald Faison and Mike Epps are both very funny guys. Even Mos Def can turn on the charm when he needs to in a comedic setting. There are some pretty funny moments, and taken as a relatively light-hearted piece, the movie could have knocked it out of the park.
However, the movie doesn’t stay on an even keel. Instead of playing the comedy card consistently, Boom yanks the audience back and forth between this and a more gritty, violent action piece. He tries to give the actors their punchy dialogue, but this never quite works in the serious light.
The only thing that I enjoyed throughout the film was the presence of Dominican/Colombian starlet Yasmin Deliz, who plays one of the drug dealer’s girlfriends. While she gets her ghetto on a little too much for my tastes, she’s quite fetching to look at. I couldn’t tell you what her character arc was all about, but I can tell you that she looks great in tight-fitting jeans.
The sad thing about “Next Day Air” is that it could have been successful as either type of film. There are funny moments. And there are some wicked-cool action sequences, in particular a shoot out that rivals some of the coolest gun play I’ve seen in these drug-dealer flicks. However, as a whole, the two pieces never fit together, and the constant switching of styles left me bored and confused rather than excited and satisfied.