‘Next Day Air’: Misfits, mis-delivered drugs add up to fun

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, May 7, 2009 2:13pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

From the looks of it, first-time screenwriter Blair Cobbs watched some of Guy Ritchie’s convoluted, multi-character crime films and figured he’d take a whack at the genre himself.

The resulting screenplay, “Next Day Air,” certainly is more fun than any of Ritchie’s movies since “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” It combines criminal ineptitude with drug jokes in an agreeably foggy way.

The mayhem begins when an herb-friendly delivery man (Donald Faison, longtime regular on “Scrubs”) for a UPS-like service brings a package to the wrong Philly apartment.

The giant stash of South American cocaine is meant for a connection (Cisco Reyes), but instead falls into the dimwitted possession of two friends, small-time hoods played by Mike Epps and Wood Harris.

This does not please the foreign drug lord (the formidable Emilio Rivera), who heads for Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, the two dimwits contact a savvy cousin (Omari Hardwick) who knows how to sell drugs. In one of the funnier running gags, his henchman (Darius McCrary) refuses to reveal his name — despite the efforts of others to weasel the information out of him.

All these actors deserve to have their names mentioned, because it’s very much an ensemble cast. Also in there: Mos Def, in an extended cameo as Faison’s light-fingered delivery buddy, and kicky Yasmin Deliz, a reality-show star and TV host who might have the feistiest accent since Rosie Perez.

She almost single-handedly represents women in the movie; “Next Day Air” is a very male fantasy. The movie is ridiculous, but so amusingly played (Faison and Epps are especially skillful funnymen) and tightly plotted it doesn’t matter.

The director is Benny Boom (who should think about teaming up with French filmmaker Olivier Megaton). A veteran of music videos, Boom gets his cast riffing through the most dazed and confused situations — even if the film looks inexcusably lousy.

Making grand claims for this movie would be difficult. Enjoying it on a popcorn level is easy.

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