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 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 wonderful film 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 likeable. 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 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 a really good one. But it strikes all the right chords most of the time and hits the ball into the basket.
Directed by Eddie Huang, Boogie gets 3 stars!
Image Source: Instagram/boogiemovie, youtube/universepicturescanada