Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This movie from Director Benny Bloom ‘Next Day Air’ might not be quite what you would expect if you choose to watch it. At least I don’t think it will be because it wasn’t quite what I expected. Yes it is funny, though it’s not all that funny, but I think this is by design as this is a much darker story than the trailer would lead you to believe. Go back in time and think about the movie ‘Let’s Do it Again’. That is if Sydney Poitier used the word ‘mother fucker’ as a verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, conjunction and object modifier. And that is if Bill Cosby was a chronic weed smoker and occasional coke snorter. Note that I am using the world ‘chronic’ as an adverb describing how often he smokes weed and not as the noun representing a type of weed. English class is over.

The story in ‘Next Day Air’ is simple enough I suppose. Donald Faison is Leo, a delivery driver for this universe’s version on UPS and he is the worst delivery driver on the planet earth. This is mainly because he only lives to smoke weed. Because of his addiction, his thinking isn’t always that clear, thus this is why he delivered this one package in particular to apartment 302 instead of apartment 303. In apartment 302 lives bumbling but violent petty criminals Brody (Mike Epps), Guch (Wood Harris) and Hassie (Malik Barnhardt) though Hassie pretty much sleeps through the whole movie. It so happens that inside this misdirected box is 22 pounds of high grade cocaine. That would be ten kilo’s in ten bricks for those down with the metric system and Brody and Guch are joyful that God loves them so much, on this particular day.

In Apartment 303 are Jesus (Cisco Reyes) and his crazy hot girlfriend Chita (Yasmin Deliz) who are waiting for this package. This package was sent to him by brutal Mexican drug lord Bodega Diablo (Emilio Rivera) who probably shouldn’t use UPS to deliver his drugs, but that’s neither here nor there right now because he just wants to know where his goods are since that online tracking program shows them as delivered. Regardless he’s on his way to Philly with his enforcer Rhino (Lobo Sebastian) in tow to get to the bottom this situation.

The fourth corner of our square is Brody’s super smooth cousin Shivo (Omari Hardwick) and his right hand man Buddy (Darius McCrary) who are the local independent pharmacists, and would be the men to go to if you have 10 kilograms of uncut pharmaceuticals that need a distribution outlet.

So what we know from the movies very first scene is that all these people end up in apartment 302 and we also know that all of them, except the delivery dude, has gun. What we don’t know is how we they all ended up on this one spot and who, if anybody, will be left standing after those guns go pop.

‘Next Day Air’ is definitely a different kind of movie with a better title probably being ‘Minorities Behaving Badly’ because brown people were seriously up to no good in this flick. I compare it to ‘Let’s Do it Again’ because in that movie everybody in the movie was either a criminal or a hustler, however because Bill Cosby was funny and Sidney Poitier was Sidney Poitier we rooted for them anyway. Such is not the case in this one because there ain’t nobody to root for in this movie, at least in the sense of rooting for the character that’s trying to do the right thing. Though this particular approach won’t win many fans who are crying out for positive role models in our neighborhood cinemas, I personally found the overall dark tone of the movie and the laundry of distasteful characters pretty damn entertaining.

When ‘Next Day Air’ tried to be funny it was very funny, for sure, it’s just that shooting people in the forehead, cutting off folks tongues and burning off the skin on some dudes face with a smoldering cigar just doesn’t make for a lot of high comedy. They took a chance with this because not only does the movie lack a hero, it also lacks a central character as all the action is spread out fairly evenly amongst the films plethora of characters. This ends up working pretty good as well, mainly because of the quality of actors that Bloom is working with. Mos Def is the best acting rapper ever – for what that’s worth, Mike Epps is at his best when he’s not being the jester and actually plays a real character as he did here, Omari Hardwick will be a big-time movie star one day soon, and in a movie filled with bad people Emilio Rivera is about as bad as it gets. Of course the drawback of all these characters in a movie such as this, one that doesn’t run all that long, is that it gets mighty light on this thing called ‘character development’. But knowing what we already know about these cats, do you really want to get to know them any better than you already do? I know I don’t.

The story elements are negligible at best as the whole drug package angle basically serves as what they call the MacGuffin, because something had to exist to get all these people in the same place at the same time with guns pointed at each other, but the journey to get there was what the ride was all about and for money it was a damn good ride. Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier would roll over in their graves at my ‘Let’s do it again’ comparison, that is if they were dead, which they aren’t, yet, but if you can tolerate a lotta bad language, a healthy dose violence, rampant drug usage, and a little girl on girl, then this update of the 70’s ensemble crime comedy might do you some good. Just know there aren’t any NAACP Image Awards coming this movies way anytime soon.

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