"Boogie" is an oddity - a coming of age film set against the backdrop of basketball where the basketball scenes are not nearly as good as the rest of the movie.
The result is an uneven piece of work from writer/director Eddie Huang. He effectively captures the elements involving family and culture and tradition, but once the film hits the court it sinks into predictable tropes that the rest of "Boogie" can't overcome.
Taylor Takahashi stars as the title character, a basketball phenom living in Queens, New York with dreams of playing in the NBA.
Boogie has talent, but a temper, which is making it hard to find a college that will offer him a scholarship. There is added pressure from his parents. His mom (Pamelyn Chee) has made his future such a priority, Boogie becomes resentful of all of her demands. His father (Perry Yung) is just as demanding, but has been in and out of his life because of numerous brushes with the law.
Boogie finds solace with his new girlfriend Eleanor (Taylour Paige) and the game he loves. But even the love of basketball begins to fade as pressures build and an on the court rival (the late rapper Pop Smoke) emerges.
"Boogie" is at its best when its lead is in his home and at school interacting with classmates. There is a naturalness to all the performs that really gives the film an authenticity - peering into a world we don't get to see that often on screen.
But the coming of age moments aren't enough to overcome a sports film that really isn't that good. Huang's script relies way too much on sports tropes and cliches, building to a predictable big game moment in the final act that brings everything crashing down.
It's as if Huang had this great idea of a story he wanted to tell, but couldn't figure out how to stick the landing - wedging a conclusion that feels as false as the first hour felt authentic.
Ultimately, Huang's heart is in the right place in "Boogie," but the end result falls way short of his lofty expectations.