The title of the easygoing, machine-made date-night romance Just Wright encapsulates the movie’s if-only Cinderella philosophy: Leslie Wright, played by Queen Latifah in a wardrobe of jeans and mall-sensible tops, is a down-to-earth, basketball-loving physical therapist and no-nonsense Jersey girl who is always, refreshingly, just herself. And yet — swish! — her homespun charms eventually win the heart of a prince. Or in this case, a prince of a fine NBA basketball star, played with low-key charisma by hip-hop artist/actor Common (Date Night). Even more miraculously, Leslie’s large heart outshines the more va-va-voomy assets of a trophy-husband hunter (Paula Patton from Precious) who just happens to be Leslie’s childhood friend. Well, a girl can dream that NBA stars roll like that, right?
Don’t put on airs, honor your family, pump your own gas: Tyler Perry’s Madea would say amen to the code by which Ms. Wright lives. The movie is a rigged game of clichés and platitudes, but fans will be pleased by additional proof that Latifah is a lovable Queen but not a pampered princess. The hoops set can enjoy some courtside action with real pro players. And Cosby Show nostalgists will be happy to see Phylicia Rashad segue from playing Bill Cosby’s wife to tsk-tsking as Common’s mama. B