Early on in the film we see Leslie (Latifah) about to go out on a blind date. Everything appears to be off to a good start as she arrives and meets her guy. We see them at dinner eating, conversing... doing all the normal things one would do on a first date. Again, everything seems to be going alright. Though as the night wraps up and the two say their goodbyes outside the restaurant, its revealed that Leslie's date was really only feeling her on a friend level. Cool on the outside but distraught at her having "friended" yet another potential long-term prospect, this becomes the ultimate crux of the film for Leslie. She's basically the female version of the guy that's always landing in the "friend zone".
See, there's nothing "wrong" with Leslie. She's funny, she's talented, she's charismatic, and she's a "guy's girl". What's funny is that the film insinuates that her "guy's girl" ways are what's keeping her from landing a man. In fact, this is more than insinuated thanks to Paula Patton's character Morgan, who plays the perfect "girlie girl" foil to Latifah's Leslie - personable, plucky, and positively smoking in a pair of stilettos. She turns heads and breaks hearts. She's a man-eater. But while Morgan is inarguably hot as shit physically, she's downright ugly in personality. The very opposite of Leslie. And of course, we've seen this all before. Hell, I'm sure we've all experienced it one way or another. The "all style, no substance" maxim.
Enter Common as Scott McKnight, an NBA superstar point guard for the New Jersey Nets. He's everything a woman wants on the surface, and more. He's an athlete, he's rich, famous, good-looking... and most importantly, single. So this makes McKnight the prime target for Morgan to set her sights on. She wants to be the star wife and gain all the perks that come along with it. It's practically become her number one goal to land a guy like this. Knowing what we think we know about athletes and celebrities, that's a match made in heaven, right? But thanks to a chance encounter with Leslie at a gas station, we begin to see more to McKnight's persona. We see a man that carries himself with a lot strength but also much grace. He's a gentleman, and he's got soul.
Common has mostly been relegated to parts in films where he hasn't really had to do much acting due mostly to limited screen time (WANTED, TERMINATOR SALVATION, AMERICAN GANGSTER). But here he gets his chance... and it's a mixed bag. There's an earnestness to his acting. You can tell he's REALLY trying. And while there's an undeniably endearing quality to that, it doesn't necessarily make for a compelling performance. I say that as a HUGE fan of Common the hip hip artist, a performer that brings a lot of inner thoughtfulness to his music and lyrics. But as the film progresses, we begin to see some of that, particularly in the film's quieter moments. That, I think, is a testament to the man's vibe more so than his acting ability, but it's nevertheless charming, and a nice counterpoint to Queen Latifah, who plays Leslie very well with much of the fun-loving energy we've come to expect from her as the year's have gone by. The great thing about Latifah is that she's believable. There's an emotional honesty to the way she portrays her female characters, and here it's no different.
Latifah and Common constitute the heart of the film, a film that unfortunately isn't as substantive as one would like it to be. There's a good message behind it all, but as is the case with the vast majority of mainstream romantic comedies, it comes wrapped in a package we've all seen a million times over.
Common on the Fast Break: Brief featurette showcasing Common and his background with basketball and the steps he took to get him flowing like a professional player.
Gag Reel: Your typical collection of bloopers, laughs, and f*ck ups. There's a bit where Jimmy Fallon appears and screws up his lines. He wound up getting cut from the film entirely.
Also included are a Theatrical Trailer for the film, a Sneak Peak at other Fox releases, and a Digital Copy "How To" tutorial video.