Alfred “Boogie” Chin is a talented basketball player who hopes one day to make it to the NBA. But he has several obstacles to overcome, including his mother and father, who are constantly at odds over the path he should take as well as their own domestic issues. Boogie also has to get over his hair-trigger temper, which causes him to lash out at his high school coach, his AP English teacher, a classmate he’s attracted to, and others.
The movie “Boogie” sounds like another coming-of-age story — and it is, complete with a love story — except that we’ve never seen one about an Asian teen who’s the star of his basketball team. His mother had him transferred to a prep school so he’d be in the same division as Monk, who’s recognized as the best baller in New York City, and it’s clear the movie’s climactic moments will come when they face each other on the court. Since Boogie’s family has limited resources, he needs to win the game and earn a basketball scholarship to take the next step up the ladder towards eventually being a pro. He also has to deal with a system that isn’t ready for him because his outbursts have tripped him up too many times.
Unfortunately, in the end, Boogie’s story isn’t as compelling as it could have been. Put the blame on writer/director Eddie Huang, best known for the TV series “Fresh Off The Boat,” which touched on similar struggles of a Taiwanese family in the US. His script hits every cliché beat, plus a couple of irrelevant visits to a fortune teller and an implied affair that merely bogs things down. As for the basketball scenes, Huang uses hyperactive editing and odd camera shots (e.g. an overhead panning view from too high) that make them hard to follow. He’s also obsessed with closeups of characters’ eyes.
Like its lead character, “Boogie” had potential, but stumbled over itself too often, so I can’t recommend it. I give the movie a 4 out of 10.
Opens Friday 3/5 in theaters, with no streaming release announced yet.