Next Day Air

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Rating: Not Rated

Mike Epps as Brody
Wood Harris as Guch
Cisco Reyes as Jesus
Yasmin Deliz as Chita
Donald Faison as Leo
Omari Hardwick as Shavoo
Darius McCrary as Buddy
Emilio Rivera as Bodega
Mos Def as Eric
Lauren London as Ivy
Debbie Allen as Ms. Jackson

Special Features:
Director’s Commentary

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Language
Running Time: 84 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“A haze-brained courier (Faison) sparks off a chain of uproarious events after he mistakenly delivers a package containing some high grade product to the wrong address and into the hands of two bumbling, wannabe gangsters (Epps and Harris). But these two fools have no clue that their neighbors down the hall – the REAL gangster and his feisty girlfriend – are connected to the Mexican mob and will do whatever it takes to recover their package.”

“Next Day Air” is rated R for pervasive language, drug content, some violence and brief sexuality.

The Movie:
Leo (Donald Faison) doesn’t know it yet, but he’s just about at the end of his rope. His girlfriend (Lauren London) has just left him, he lives at home with his mother (Debbie Allen) and he works a dead-end job as a delivery man for Next Day Air. A job that self-same mom is getting ready to fire him from for being a hopeless screw up. And that’s just the start of his troubles. When he mistakenly delivers ten bricks of cocaine to a pair of gangsters (Mike Epps, Wood Harris) instead of the would-be drug dealer next door (Cisco Reyes), he suddenly finds himself two days away from having a whole lot of guns pointed his way.

The idea in these kinds of stories is the ticking clock, using the foreknowledge of the confrontation to come to build tension and suspense until the moment arrives. And usually to engage in a few funny, entertaining digressions in the process, but video director Benny Boom, making his feature debut, keeps unbalancing his film in favor of the second choice, delivering a film that ends with more of a whimper than a bang. That wouldn’t be too bad if the rest of it was entertaining enough to make up the difference, but it’s not. It’s the kind of movie directors like Guy Ritchie and Joe Carnahan love to make, repeatedly, just less clever.

Leo himself is actually something of a red herring, as Boom and first-time screenwriter Blair Cobbs spend only a minimal amount of time with him. They’re trying to develop a fairly large ensemble, which is a tall order at the best of times, and probably impossible in a 90-minute movie. Instead, we spend most of our time in the apartment of Brody and Guch, or their next door neighbor Jesus, as they alternately rejoice, agonize, argue about, scheme over and search for the cocaine. And sometimes just pass the time with video games and hookers. Which is all about as entertaining as it sounds.

It’s supposed to be one of those films where the characters’ telling interactions draw the viewer in, in lieu of a plot (which tends to occur in the background), but that sort of thing takes an ability with dialogue and pace Cobbs doesn’t seem to have. It really could have used a bit more timing and presence. There’s some to be had from Mos Def, in the two whole scenes he appears in, but most of what little there is has to come from Omari Hardwick’s Shavoo, the drug dealer trying to buy the cocaine who is having something of a mid-life crisis about his chosen profession. He offers the film its only real moments of humanity and his interactions with bodyguard Buddy (Darius McCrary) are both engaging and sadly nihilistic. There is some genuine drama to be had there, but Hardwick isn’t up to carrying the entire film, and isn’t really given the chance. And barring Yasmin Deliz’s eye candy, there isn’t much else really interesting about it.

Anyone who thinks they’re in for some sort of light crime comedy with Faison and Mos Def dealing with drug dealers and gangsters is in for a supreme disappointment. Mostly it’s Epps and Hardwick and Harris being paranoid in the room. “Next Day Air” is well-intentioned but ill-thought, an amateur work by a first time filmmaking team trying to make the kind of film they like to watch, but ignorant of what makes those kinds of films work.

The Extras:
They skimped on the bonus features with this one. There’s only an audio commentary with the director and a batch of outtakes.