Next Day Air Review

Expectations are important to any film-going experience, so it’s only fair to note that I went into Next Day Air expecting it to be a bad comedy. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be a bad action film and a bad drama in addition to being a bad comedy. What a world.

Leo, an inept employee for the titular Next Day Air delivery service (played by Donald Faison) spends most of his time on the job tossing cardboard boxes around haphazardly and getting high on weed. This relative stasis is broken when he accidentally delivers a package full of cocaine to Brody (Mike Epps) and Guch (Wood Harris), two small time thugs who immediately try to turn the cocaine around and sell it to Brody’s cousin Shavoo (Omari Hardwick). Naturally, the cocaine’s intended recipients (Cisco Reyes and Yasmin Deliz) are none too happy about this, and come gunning to find out where the cocaine has gone. Misunderstandings occur, the script is padded with gratuitious sex scenes and inane subplots, so on and so forth.

First of all, no reason is ever given for Leo bringing the package to the wrong door. Granted, he brings it to 302 instead of 303, which could be an honest mistake, but that he doesn’t even do it after accidentally burning off the label with his joint should give you some idea of just how lazily written this movie is. The movie opens up with a scene in which our thugs accidentally don’t rob a bank due to a comedic misunderstanding between them, which could have led to something else happening, or done something to define their interactions with each other, or maybe could have come up again in any sense since its on the freaking news. But it doesn’t. It leads to nothing. Yes, of course, I’m nitpicking, but you have to start somewhere with this.

Where you end up in any case is with the absolutely absurd shifts in tone that this film takes between scenes and sometimes between shots. When a movie makes fairly light use of marijuana smoking in the Cheech and Chong sense (without any of the panache or conviction that they had), it’s fairly jarring to also see a character stabbed to death with a kitchen knife or a totally joyless sex scene that comes completely out of nowhere with characters we’ve never seen before and is set to kind of spooky music (think that infamous scene in Munich).

This might have hurt more if the movie was funnier, but it frankly isn’t. A few of the supporting characters are able to draw some decent comedic potential (Mos Def in particular is able to affect some good timing, but is otherwise completely wasted), but the movie seems unwilling to ever commit to any of these characters or situations long enough to get anything out of them. It just kind of cuts to different unimportant scenes (there’s a subplot in a storage facility for example that never really goes anywhere) for no real reason other than to bring the film to even a meager ninety minute running time. Ever meet a twelve year old with a serious case of ADHD, or even Aspergers? This movie’s kind of like that. I’d like to think that if it actually sat down and decided what kind of movie it wanted to be that it would have gone anywhere, but I really don’t think it would have.

I’m trying really hard to think of something nice to say about this movie, and I really can’t think of a thing. It was mercifully short, so if you have to choose between this and something that you’ll probably also really hate (only one more week until Angels and Demons) but won’t give you time to eat dinner, go with this one. Or stay home and rent something slightly more cohesive, like Faces of Death. Nobody will hold it against you.

"Next Day Air" opens May 8, 2009 and is rated R. Crime-Thriller. Directed by Benny Boom. Written by Blair Cobbs. Starring Donald Faison, Mike Epps, Wood Harris, Omari Hardwick, Cisco Reyes, Yasmin Deliz.

Anders Nelson • Associate Editor


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