March 11, 2021

CINEMA | Eddie Huang Makes the Jump to 'Boogie'

"He's more model minority Jesus freak than he is Asian."
Taylor Takahashi Taylour Paige Eddie Huang | Boogie
Focus Features
Tawainese-American food personality and restaurateur turned first-time filmmaker Eddie Huang (who also co-stars) of Fresh Off the Boat fame makes his writing/directing debut with the high school basketball melodrama Boogie. The story of a troubled hotshot teen athlete in need of taming and teamwork, the film is full of naturalistic performances looking for a sheen of authenticity.

Starring Taylor Takahashi and Taylour Paige as the eponymous Queens baller (aka Alfred Chin) and his alluring love interest Eleanour, Boogie hits most of the familiar beats of its genre while trying to balance real first-generation Asian-American experiences alongside its African-American supporting characters. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and slain rapper Pop Smoke fill out Huang's talented young cast around his leads.

Huang avoids glossing over the darker aspects of Chinese households including common parental pressures and domestic violence. The generational film tries to dismantle model minority stereotypes just as it fantasizes about Asians in more prominent positions within American culture by indulging in its hoop dreams and the obvious sex appeal of its dynamic lead.

Huang's film never quite comes together in a way that's satisfying to the director's trademark sense of identity and play or the well-worn coming-of-age high school sports movie. Furthermore, Boogie is also a casualty of its own critiques of American culture and society despite its diverse cast and refreshing perspective.

Boogie is available to stream on various digital platforms and through video on demand starting March 26th.


More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire

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