May 06, 2009

Next Day Air

What can clowns do for you?

Grade: C –

Director: Benny Boom

Starring: Donald Faison, Mos Def, Mike Epps, Wood Harris, Omari Harwick, Cisco Reyes, Yasmin Deliz, and Emilio Rivera

MPAA Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Director Benny Boom (“if that’s your real name…”) makes the leap from directing music videos for 50 Cent and Nas to channeling his inner Guy Ritchie in Next Day Air, a hyperactive hip-hop crime-comedy. The filmmakers might believe they are striking some blow for cinematic equality in creating a film in which all the characters are people of color. But, what are they really saying when all the African-Americans are gun-touting, pot-smoking psychopaths and Latinos are murderous drug dealers who run cock-fighting rings on the side.

When a Philly delivery driver (Donald Faison, far funnier and more comfortable on Scrubs) mistakenly takes a box containing 10 kilos of primo cocaine to a couple of low-level crooks (Mike Epps and Wood Harris) instead of the Hispanic middle-man across the hall (Cisco Reyes) and his sassy, slinky squeeze (Yasmin Deliz), it triggers a collision course of ultra-violent events. There’s little that is remotely redeeming here, as already inane dialogue is garbled still through a series of stereotypical, slang-ridden accents. And, Boom doesn’t have the Scorsese/Tarantino skill to seamlessly transition back and forth between bawdy comedy and sadistic violence.

Only the inexplicably underused Mos Def provides even a modicum of chuckles as a loopy, larcenous deliveryman. Otherwise, Next Day Air is one mishandled muddle that needs to be returned to sender.

Neil Morris

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