MOVIE REVIEW: Next Day Air

This surprisingly dark comedy about a group of present day Boys in the Hood, stars Mike Epps as guff ball Brody, Wood Harris as wanna be-gangster Guch and Donald Faison as slacker Leo, the central figure. Set in South Philly, the “Next Day Air” chronicles a day-in-the-life of these three opportunist and unapologetic characters who are just regular hood dudes ending up in a do or die situation.

The supporting players create layers to the plot and these include performances by Debbie Allen, Lauren London, Emilio Rivera, Mos Def, Darius McCrary and Omar Hardwicke. After watching, the viewer should be able to appreciate the modifier of the title, “Next Day Air,” referring to a package being delivered by the next day.

Benny Boom, its director, created a visually and emotionally moving film. The story literally takes off in the first scene with Leo sliding out of his delivery truck, grabbing his next pick up. But this package is not flying nor is it being delivered on time. It’s thrown in a van with a weed-smoking driver and on the way the package gets bumped, bruised and thrown around and probably, opened. This creates the framework of the script, set against a myriad of characters and consequences as a result.

Yasmin Peliz (Chita) and Cisco Reyes, (Jesus) – the couple down the hall – are the original receivers of this package. These two are at the beginning of their drug selling business and burst onto the screen with zest and energy. Jasmin who never acted before is like fire in this role; even with the fabulously thin shapely body, Chita is a lady of substance. Ladies want to be her. She loved her man in her own way with powerful performances that flowed seamlessly as Whitney and Bobby-esque; down with each other to the very end. When the package comes up missing, Jesus’ a** is in jeopardy. The duo set out to find it in the neighborhood, by any means necessary.

The sequence of events that follow could be perceived as samples from storylines, references or scenes of other films done in a clever and original way. Still, “Next Day Air” is unique because of its relevant dialog and dynamite actors, each standing out while on screen. There’s a wonderful Pulp Fiction-like conversations between the middlemen, Buddie played by Darius McCrary and Shavoo portrayed by Omar Hardwicke. Then there’s the witty one-liners from the offbeat guy that never leaves the couch at Brody and Guch’s apartment similar to the character from “Half Baked.” Guch and Brody are running buddies and roommates. They can’t seem to get a good heist off the ground and desperately need a break when the package is brought to them by mistake. They act as if they’ve hit the lottery.

Upon watching it appears that maybe these two would have some kind of loyalty to each other but throughout the entire movie, the notion is dubious. There’s lots of weed smoking, gaught-busting and tightly dressed women to make the outcome interesting. But there’s also praying, philosophizing and hugging to make “Next Day Air” tender. This movie is definitely marketed to the grown Black and Brown audience with faces, references and gestures that suggest the younger and more mainstream crowd might now relate. But I suppose even general audience members can relate to how this movie ends; shit happens. It’s a great date movie with good-looking men and women to satisfy and yet it also tells a triumphant story that’s a must-see this weekend.

The trailer for “Next Day Air”

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