Jungle
Boogie

Boogie

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
Genre: 
Grade:
B-
Running Time: 
89 minutes

Coming-of-age films are a dime a dozen, but I feel like Asian coming-of-age films are a rarity. That’s where Boogie comes dribbling down the court. It’s an ambitious directorial debut for Eddie Huang, author of Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir, and touches on many aspects young kids face these days. It’s a little rough around the edges and there’s a lot of room for improvement, but Huang’s unique perspective is well worth watching.

 

Alfred “Boogie” Chin (Taylor Takahashi) has ambitious dreams of playing professional basketball, and he just might be good enough to do so. The road to the NBA isn’t easy though and even though Boogie has his whole path mapped out for him, pressures from his parents, his friends, his competitors, and even his heritage push him to his limits and make him question whether or not it’s really worth it. Ultimately it’s up to Boogie to decide what he wants out of life and no one else.

 

Like its titular character, Boogie deals with quite a lot. He’s transferred to a new school so he could play against New York’s top high school player, Monk (Bashar Jackson), and show potential colleges that he can ball with the best in the hopes of securing a full ride scholarship. It’s the path his parents want him to take, especially his father. Boogie himself is more interested in simply playing basketball and pleasing his parents so he’s content with whatever path it placed in front of him. Taylor Takahashi delivers a solid performance as you can see him juggle these conflicting thoughts in his mind. His delivery could be better in some of the situations, but it’s pretty easy to follow along regardless.

 

Boogie does seem to struggle with its own identity at times. There are moments where it feels like it’s simply reinforcing stereotypes rather than deliver any sort of message or understanding, and only scratches the surface in terms of development. At times, especially towards the beginning when we’re only just learning about Boogie, the dialogue is clunky and awkward like when he’s trying to flirt with fellow student Eleanor (Taylour Paige). I know high school students aren’t exactly the most eloquent people out there but it definitely needed more work. The film does continue to improve as the story progresses and we come to understand Boogie and the pressures around him, thankfully. 

 

It’s not quite on the same level as Hoop Dreams, but Boogie dares to dream big and ultimately it works in the film’s favor. It can be a little rough around the edges sometimes, but there are also deeply personal moments that just seem to flow and connect. Give Boogie a shot and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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