Basic Game: Our Review of ‘Boogie’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 05, 2021
Basic Game: Our Review of ‘Boogie’

While the beat and the rhythm may have changed, the song remains invariably the same.

From Writer/Director Eddie Huang; Boogie hits all the right beats for the coming of age sports story with an Asian twist to it, and really there’s nothing wrong with the film…except for the fact that we’ve kind of seen it countless times before…and done better.

Alfred “Boogie” Chin is a basketball phenom living in Queens, New York, who dreams of one day playing in the NBA. While his parents pressure him to focus on earning a scholarship to an elite college, Boogie must find a way to navigate a new girlfriend, high school, on-court rivals and the burden of expectation.

It’s ultimately well made, and Huang brings the element of Chinese culture to the forefront and its relationship to the sport of basketball, but Boogie doesn’t bring much else to the table as we never quite get invested in any of the characters.

The story certainly isn’t an unexpected one as its been seen in a myriad of sports stories before this one and Huang gives it genuine relevance to the Chinese immigrant experience by making it feel distinct to his characters struggles, but it’s all too predictable.  Troubled home, family pressures, falling for a young woman who isn’t from his own culture, the constant struggles to adapt to a world that doesn’t understand or want him around…

Sounds familiar right?

That’s because it is, Boogie is following the playbook to a tee and while that isn’t necessarily the wrong thing to do, it kind of makes for a boring and somewhat rote moving going experience.  When you combine that with flat, unlikeable characters it’s not a great combination.

Taylor Takahashi in his debut feature here as Alfred ‘Boogie’ Shin is actually pretty rigid and awkward.  While we’ll admit that part of that actually plays in his favor here as a super talented kid learning to keep his ego in check, we’ll still always be distracted by the fact that he looks like the oldest high school senior we’ve ever seen.

The rest of the ensemble is fine, but the reality is that so many of the characters in this film are just really under written and very flat.  From the domineering mother, to the coach who is going to teach Boogie humility, to the love interest who cares more for him then what he can do on the court and this misguided father putting dreams of success on the shoulders of a young man who just might not be ready for it yet.

Ultimately, there’s really nothing all that wrong with Boogie as a movie, but there’s nothing all that right to it as well since it makes the Chinese American experience about trying to get a scholarship to play basketball felt pretty darn similar to the experience that a young man of any colour would have to go through.  Maybe that’s the point?  But it doesn’t make Boogie into anything that we haven’t seen 100 times before.

Boogie is opening in theatres where able across Canada and will hit PVOD platforms in the coming weeks.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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