“Boogie” is movie about growing up with ambitions and expectations that might seem far-fetched. The young high school basketball ball star is from an ethically Chinese background. There are few roles models in the NBA to whom he can relate. Growing up in New York City also gives him difficulties, in that there as many people biased against him from the White side of the city as from the Black side.
Alfred ‘Boogie’ Chin (played by Taylor Takahashi) has talent and skill on the basketball court. His father (played by Perry Yung) does everything he can to support Boogie’s development. He takes on a “Mr. Miyagi” type role as his personal coach and mentor. His mother (played by Pamelyn Chee) knows that Boogie has the skill, but she thinks he does not have the drive to excel. Boogie is placed in a school where he becomes the instant star player. The rest of the team knows that Boogie is the only decent player.
The reason that Boogie is in that school and on that team is so that the basketball squad can met and beat the feared rival team. That team has one very excellent player, named Monk (played by Bashar Jackson – a.k.a rapper Pop Smoke). The major match-up will attract many top University scouts who will see Boogie play at his highest level. Boogie, along with his whole family, knows that the result will be full-ride scholarship. That is the way Boogie can finally achieve his life goal – getting to be a star in the NBA.
At school Boogie meets and starts to go out with a girl named Eleanor (played by Taylour Paige). They have a fun relationship, and Eleanor supports Boogie in his goal to get to a top-line school and get into the NBA. But his mother starts to think that Boogie is not taking his goal seriously. His father is a bit too low-brow to get any good connections made with the people in power. So, instead, she turns to a man named Melvin (played by Mike Moh). He has connections and pulls some strings to get Boogie some real chances.
Melvin and Boogies mother have gotten a potential contract created for the young superstar. He can sign up for a nice sum of money to play at the professional level. The only thing is, it a contract for the Chinese Basketball Association. Boogie would have to forgo any chance to play with his current high school team against his biggest rival, Monk. He would never get any full-ride scholarship. He would have to leave his home and live and play overseas, He would have to play in a land which he has never even visited. Boogie would need to leave behind his family, and his girlfriend Eleanor.
“Boogie” does have a unique aspect in dealing with this coming-of-age drama. It has the added twist of dealing with the ethnically Chinese culture as the setting for the very mundane ‘growing up and ready to prove yourself with sports’ type of story. That brings with it a special look at the family life and how the family keeps the bonds strong. It shows that there is great attention given to respect of elders, and being able to bring honor to the family is very important.
But the writing does make use some rather tepid “fortune cookie” type sayings that are meant to sound very profound. Such as “The Warmth of Love can Melt the Hardest Sword of Hate”, or “A Horse can be led out of the Desert, but He must make the Choice to Drink at the Oasis”. These do not detract overall from the movie, but might make some people might roll their eyes.
Both Taylor Takahashi and Taylour Paige play their roles with a lot of heart. It is nice to see some good up-and-coming acting talent being put to good use. This is big effort for Eddie Huang, as the writer and director. He has done a solid job, but he sometimes leans to far into the standard ‘sports movie’ tropes.
“Boogie” is decent movie, with a meaningful look at growing up in an urban setting with perspective that is different than many of the Black and White characters you would normally see.
Written and Directed by: Eddie Huang
Starring: Taylor Takahashi, Taylour Paige, Bashar Jackson, Mike Moh
Music by: Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Pop Smoke
Cinematography: Brett Jutkiewicz
Edited by: Joan Sobel
Distributed by: Focus Features
Release date: March 5, 2021
Length: 89 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout including sexual references, and some drug use