Combine a few stupid but lethal bad guys, one likable loser in over his head, an array of quirky supporting characters, millions of dollars in cocaine, and enough guns to arm a commando team, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a solid crime comedy -- and that‘s exactly what Next Day Air is.
Leo (Donald Faison) thinks he’s having just another average day. He works for Next Day Air -- the shipping service run by his mother. To help pass the time, he smokes weed while making his deliveries. That afternoon, in his impaired state, he accidentally delivers a shipment of cocaine to inept bank robbers Brody (Mike Epps) and Guch (Wood Harris) -- instead of to the low-level drug dealer who’s supposed to get it -- setting in motion a series of double-crosses, lies, and schemes that just might end in his death.
Granted, there’s nothing terribly original about much of the story. We’ve seen homicidal Hispanic drug kings, street-smart motor-mouthed girlfriends, and hilariously incompetent criminals before, but first-time feature director Benny Boom (along with first-time screenwriter Blair Cobbs) finds the right combination of goofy character behavior, action set pieces, and narrative drive to keep the movie from ever being boring. While never letting up the pace, he deftly works in funny bits of business for all of the actors, the kind of moments that give Mos Def -- playing Leo’s co-worker -- the chance to shine.
Freshmen filmmakers often wear their influences on their sleeves, and while it’s easy to spot the debt Next Day Air owes to crime storytellers like Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard, and F. Gary Gray, it’s also plain to see that Boom and Cobbs could easily become reliably enjoyable moviemakers in their own right. leave a comment --Perry Seibert