This cliched basketball drama is really a coming-of-anger from a perspective of Taiwanese immigrants in the U.S.
Eddie Huangs Boogie pushes all the familiar emotional buttons as the titular protagonist Alfred Chin (with skills like a Stephen Curry) gradually understands that there’s no “I” in team on his way to the ‘Big Game.’
A fortune teller (Jessica Huang) provides wisdom at the outset when it comes to melting he sharpest sword’. And she’ll echo this message later as a disaffected character finally embraces a change for the better.
There’s not too much that’s different from trajectories in sports movies where there’s dissension among the team (in this case the transfer of a player from Queens, NY to an elite prep school) which hasn’t been a winner for some time. Not to mention the domestic situation filled with strife from parents moving him in different directions, as well a romantic interest in a classmate whose maturity will be instrumental in helping him push past his fears. Oh, there’s a teammate and loyal pal (who sits with him in literature class) who’ll contribute to a necessary clarity.
The aspiration of reaching the NBA or playing for and asian league with a college scholarship and financial aid in the balance is part of the main conflict here. Huang tries to get into where-Asians fit into sports in a lesser known experience of young adults noting how they’re negatively viewed as a whole in the U.S. The opportunity to expand into this just seems like an afterthought.
An idea of home and acceptance amid rivalry, irresponsibility, and hostility predictably hits home. As Boogie (Taylor Takahashi) learns from Eleanor (Taylour Paige), has disagreeing parents (Parry Chee, Pamelyn Chee). Richie (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr), as well as Monk (the late “Pop Smoke” Jackson who was a victim of a robbery/home invasion early last year). Monk’s the star attraction of the chief court opponent as a classic J.D. Salinger novel is taught to a fairly unreceptive class. The initiation of these characters into this proffered framework doesn’t allow for much development leaving most of them underserved, especially Jackson. There is, of course, an obligatory stare down.
You just with Huang could have his own soothsayer to make this kind of cinema with the occasional exciting flourish to be less of a cardboard cut-out of more adept, nuanced, and deeply felt examples in the genre. AS a few cineastes may be reminded of Love and Basketball and the seminal Hoosiers not to mention the non-fiction gem Hoop Dreams.