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Out of Bounds

Just Wright fouls out as chick flick and sports drama

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Leslie Wright (Queen Latifah) is a physical therapist who would rather talk trash at a New Jersey Nets game than make small talk over a fancy dinner. Needless to say, she doesn't end up getting a lot of dates. When she goes to see her favorite team play, she usually takes her best friend Morgan (Paula Patton).

In Just Wright's opening moments, the two are at a game the Nets actually win (something they didn't do much this season), thanks to the heroics of their All-Star point guard Scott McKnight (Common). Leslie has a chance encounter with Scott, who invites her to his birthday party. She accepts, but figures she has no chance with the ballplayer. "I date regular guys," she tells Morgan, who goes to the party with her.

Soon, Scott and Morgan are dating, and it's not long before she's living in his midtown New York mansion. "We plan to start a family right away," Morgan tells Leslie, even though they've only been going out for three months. A notorious gold digger, Morgan admits she went after Scott "for all the wrong reasons" at first, but claims he won over her heart.

After Scott blows out his knee during the All-Star Game (which is really just an excuse for cameos by NBA stars like Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade), he has to start working with a physical therapist. Thinking that Scott's career is over, Morgan dumps him. Leslie takes over his therapy and promises to get him back on the court, even though sports analysts say his career is over. Of course, Scott and Leslie fall in love, but things get complicated when Morgan comes back into his life.

Latifah is terrific as the good-natured Leslie, and rapper Common is a convincing ballplayer (he reportedly spent some time working on his skills), but the two don't have much chemistry and their romance takes way too long to develop. The film's constant string of montages doesn't help matters. Not cute enough for a chick flick, and too cute to be a bona fide sports drama, Just Wright quickly fouls out.

Send feedback to jniesel@clevescene.com.

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