Boogie Is One More Sensitive Stab At The Immigrant’s Experience

Boogie

Starring  Taylor Takahashi,Taylour Paige, Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson, and Jorge LendeborgJr

Directed  by  Eddie Huang

Rating: ***

There is  a very  funny  lovemaking scene  in this engaging  immigrant’s tale  about a second-generation Chinese-American boy’s  desire to make it into the basketball league. It is  Boogie,  as  Alfred Chin(Taylor Takahashi )likes  to be called,doing it  for the  first time  and he is  really nervous because he’s never done  it before , and because well, he feels he  is not well endowed.

“I am  quite small,”he mumbles nervously  to his far  more experienced  girlfriend.

Straight-off , this sequence tells us  so  much about Boogie, his anxieties  about not being able to fit in, his lack of confidence in bed far  more on  display  than on the field  where he wants to  prove himself  beyond the restrictions placed by his Chinese ancestry which is insinuated  into the  plot with   a kind of  nodding affection without rubbing   it in.

 This is  not  to say that Boogie is some kind of wunderfilm   or even anywhere close to that  other recent film on the  immigrant’s experience The  Illegal. Boogie has a certain urban charm to it and the  lead players are  likable. Boogie’s struggle also feels real most  of  the way except when  Boogie’s mother(played by  Pamelyn Chee) begins to  get too close for comfort with her son’s  promoter and manager(Mike Moh). Their alliance  seems cheesy,  probably because  it is.

Otherwise there is  so much that is  real and endearing about Boogie including the way he  leans  on his best friend(Jorge Lendeborg Jr) and baulks  when pitched against his  most conspicuous  opponent (Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson who  died  soon after filming).It all feels real and lived-in including that sequence where Boogie’s father makes  him kneel down in front of his coach to apologize.

 Cultural diaspora is perpetually the  biggest  damper for  the immigrant , no matter how we  look at  it. Boogie uses  the  basketball court to show us how the walls of racial and cultural isolation can be demolished  through sports.  It isn’t easy. But  it is always a fascinating challenge for an  outsider to embrace  the  American Dream.Boogie shows us  how.It isn’t a great  film. Not even  really  good one.  But it strikes all the right  chords most  of the  time  and hits the  ball into the  basket.

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