Rated R for pervasive language, drug content, some violence and brief sexuality, 90 minutes
Messy, mediocre “Next Day Air” loses identity along with package
The new comedy “Next Day Air” is a messy, mediocre comedy with an identity problem. It strives to be a hip, urban version of “Pulp Fiction” but ends up a mish-mash of blood and bullets with a few mildly funny lines thrown in. The novice filmmaking team of “Next Day Air” is largely responsible for this jumbled mess about a misplaced package in the wrong hands, and it ends up wasting a talented, handsome cast, all of whom have done better than this film.
Pot-smoking slacker Leo (“Scrubs” Donald Faison) is on the verge of losing his job as a delivery man for a UPS-like company. However, he accidentally delivers a drug-filled package to the wrong address, to a couple of dense, low-life thieves named Brody (Mike Epps) and Gooch (Wood Harris). They see the package as a jackpot and a way out of the ghetto, and have an interested buyer in Brody’s cousin Shavoo (Omari Hardwick) who intends to “flip” the package and make a huge profit. However, the package’s intended recipients, Puerto Rican couple Jesus (Cisco Reyes) and Chita (Yasmin Deliz) along with the package’s Mexican cartel original sender Bodega (Emilio Rivera) come looking for the package with time running out before the situation becomes too explosive for everyone to handle.
“Next Day Air” is a sloppy, awkward and bloody mixture of dark comedy and drama that doesn’t always work. The mediocre results are a result of novice director Benny Boom and screenwriter Blair Cobbs, who ends up with something different than their original intent. Boom’s lazy direction and Cobbs unfocused, thin script results in an uneven affair. It chases too many rabbits in its middle section and while the bullet-filled, slow-mo climax is fun to watch, it’s overly stylized and too bloody to fit in with the rest of the movie.
“Next Day Air” lacks a true hero and a true focus, though the normally funny Faison, known to TV audiences from “Scrubs,” tries with a badly written role that disappears for a third of the film. The rest of the cast is annoyingly unfunny – Epps and Harris stand around their dirty apartment arguing for the whole film – while others such as Mos Def are tremendously underused (the funny, deadpan Def – by far the biggest name here - is in just about three scenes with a few minutes of screentime - yet he gets top billing). Throw in an extremely unfunny cameo from Debbie Allen (“Fame”) and you end up with a real mess. Also, the stereotypes in “Next Day Air” are woefully offensive, as if all Puerto Rican women (namely Deliz) speak in a nasally Rosie Perez-like tone.
“Next Day Air” does have a few funny lines and moments, mostly involving Def (“I like your outfit, your hair” he tells Deliz when first seeing her) or the bumbling Faison, who mugs for the camera much of the time. What it does do is answer the question of what’s happened to Darius McCrary, the older brother from the ‘90s TV series “Family Matters,” who pops up here in a small role (“What is his name? I’ve seen him before, whispered someone at a recent screening).
Much like, McCrary, you’ve seen all this before, and done much better. I wouldn’t bother with “Next Day Air,” and you should wait for it to arrive as a DVD $1 redbox rental, which shouldn’t be long.