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'Next Day Air' is ... a movie, if nothing else

Next Day Air is one of those types of movies I dread writing about. It's not all that bad, but it isn't anything all that special, so it's a bit of a task to piece together a full-length review. However, since it was the only major release opposite Star Trek, I have no choice. Warning: I might have to resort to poetry or stories about my dogs to pad this thing.

First off, it's hard to find humor in a film about a FedEx-type deliveryman (Donald Faison) who smokes a lot of weed and delivers shit to the wrong apartments. I get a lot of packages on a daily basis, and they sometimes go to the wrong place, and this just causes anxiety for me. So, right off the bat, I wasn't too keen on the premise.

Also, this thing is being marketed as a comedy, and it does have funny people in the cast (Faison, Mike Epps, Mos Def), but the movie itself isn't very funny. It's a film that tries to balance laughs with violence, and its tone is all over the place. You might find yourself giggling a little bit, but then some poor sap starts getting doused with flammable liquids, or a roomful of people gets shot up. This puts a damper on the laughter.

Faison plays Leo, who is in severe danger of getting fired from his dead-end job, even though his mom (Debbie Allen) is the boss. He delivers a big box of cocaine to the wrong apartment, and some small-time criminals (including Epps) get the box and decide to reap the benefits. They immediately set out to sell the stuff, which leads to an eventual confrontation with Jesus (Cisco Reyes), the intended receiver of said drugs.

It's unsettling when a guy in a movie cuts into a brick of cocaine, and the guys sitting around you in the theater start making noises like they are having sex. I'm totally serious. That's what happened when I was watching this movie: One of the characters took out his switchblade and punctured the plastic, and I heard guys, in low, sexy voices, going, "Oh yeah ... that's what I'm talking 'bout. You wanna give me some of that." It seemed like a freaking porno was playing. I'm surprised the comments weren't punctuated by the sounds of heavy snorting.

Anyway, back to the movie, one-third of which deals with Leo's job and his time hanging out with co-worker Eric (Mos Def), while another third deals with Epps' character and his cohorts trying to do a drug deal with a cousin, Shavoo (Omari Hardwick). The rest of the film is devoted to Jesus and his girlfriend, Chita (Yasmin Deliz), fighting about the whereabouts of the drug package. Of the three storylines, the Epps one is probably the most interesting, but that's only because it features Darius McCrary of Family Matters fame. You have to give props to a guy who survived nine years with Urkel. Did you hear me? That show was on for nine years!

Faison is funny on Scrubs, and he's OK here as a man who needs to get his priorities straight. However, Mos Def is given next to nothing to do.

The amount of laughs you'll get out of this film depends upon how funny you think it is when a bunch of people get shot and tortured. Who knows? You might find it to be a laugh riot.

There. I got through the review without having to share poetry or dog stories. Good for you, because my poetry sucks, although I do have a couple of decent puppy anecdotes in my literary arsenal. Perhaps I will share them at another time.

Next Day Air
Rated R · 84 minutes · 2009
Official Site: nextdayair-movie.com
Director: Benny Boom
Producer: Scott Aronson, Inny Clemons, Shaun Livingston and Steve Markoff
Cast: Donald Faison, Mike Epps, Wood Harris, Omari Hardwick, Darius McCrary, Cisco Reyes, Emilio Rivera, Mos Def, Debbie Allen, Yasmin Deliz, Lauren London and Lobo Sebastian

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