‘Boogie’ Review: Thoughtful Coming-of-Age Drama Stumbles Over Mediocre Lead Performance

Eddie Huang’s film debut cleverly plays on genre conventions through a Chinese-American lens, but lacks a key supporting cast.

Taylor Takahashi and Taylour Paige in Boogie

It’s been said that for any director, casting is half the battle. If you can get the right actors in the right roles and get solid performances, then you are already halfway to success. Unfortunately for the writer-director Eddie huang, that’s where he debuted in his feature film Move the skeleton hesitates badly. The film rests on the shoulders of Taylor takahashi, whose work in Move the skeleton it is your only screen credit to date. Takahashi has to bear the full weight of the film’s emotional pathos as his character navigates between trying to appease everyone in his life and his own ego. Move the skeleton It’s a movie with a chip on its shoulder, and that gives Huang’s image its edge, but all of its strengths recede when Takahashi doesn’t have the emotional weight that the movie requires.

Alfred “Boogie” Chen (Takahashi) is a high school basketball star whose father (Perry Yung |) thinks he’s on his way to the NBA. To get there, Boogie transfers to City Prep so he can finally play against the biggest prospect in town, Monk (Pop smoke). If he can beat Monk, then there is a chance for a scholarship to a top 10 school and a path to the NBA. However, Boogie’s mother (Pamelyn chee) is more skeptical of these opportunities and seeks to find another way to utilize Boogie’s talents for the financial security of the family. Thrown between these competing desires, Boogie struggles to appease his parents and keep his temper in check, but finds comfort with his partner Eleanor (Taylor paige). However, Boogie continues to view his world as a series of obligations that he cannot possibly fulfill to make everyone happy.

Taylor Takahashi and Eddie Huang in Boogie

Image via focus functions

The most I like of Move the skeleton is that Huang is actively working against a coming-of-age story like The Catcher in the Rye, a text that is assigned to Boogie and his AP English classmates (I’ll let you Receiver is somewhat below what would be assigned to high school seniors taking AP English). The culture clashes and obligations Boogie faces are a long way from Holden Caulfield and putting Boogie’s kind of story on screen is a hit for Huang. The movie shows Boogie caught between family loyalty and his own desires. Boogie knows he has the talent and ability, but his family guides him in trying to do the right thing, even if he thinks his family doesn’t always know how to do it right with him.

But all of this goes back to the main character, and Takahashi never plays the levels the movie requires. Boogie is a good character, but is undone by a weak acting. I’m not saying this to shoot Takahashi, but Move the skeleton live or die for his leadership, and Takahashi never brings much emotional depth or nuance to the main character. Whether Boogie is on the verge of losing his virginity or trying to protect his parents, there is no vulnerability to this performance. That’s fine when Boogie struts the court or woos Eleanor, but it’s in the smallest moments that this character needs to live, and the movie never gives us that. Without a strong core performance, Move the skeleton becomes nothing more than a story about a conflicting Chinese-American basketball star who needs to win the big game.

Taylor Takahashi and Pop Smoke in Boogie

Image via focus functions

The history surrounding Move the skeleton He’s pretty strong, and I’d be eager to see Huang take on another project, as he clearly has a firm point of view, knows how to play with narrative tropes, and isn’t afraid to make solid visual decisions in the service of his characters. . But with Move the skeleton, has made a grave mistake by casting Takahashi, who instead of looking like a true teenager dealing with a turning point in his life, becomes nothing more than a platform to support the ideas of the film.

Classification: C

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