By STEVE PERSALL
Times Film Critic
Next Day Air is the most depressing time I've spent in a theater in a long time. It's an urban minstrel show the likes of which I thought African-American filmmakers had grown beyond.
Director Billy Boom's debut movie is almost entirely populated by negative African-American and Latino stereotypes, motivated by unquenchable thirst for hard drugs, big guns and sordid sex. The lone principled character, someone's mother, has her pleas for a son's redemption brusquely ignored, then never appears again. Almost everyone dies in a climactic hail of bullets, and not a moment too soon.
Did I mention that Next Day Air is intended as comedy?
Maybe it is, if stringing together mumbled profanities is your idea of humor. Or the sight of someone's getting their tongue sliced out, or being tortured with a smoldering cigar. I get the feeling that Boom is attempting a Tarantino — Reservoir Dogz, perhaps — without the sledgehammer dialogue or diabolical plotting.
The setup is lame: A delivery man (Donald Faison) drops a package of cocaine at the wrong address, inspiring two petty crooks (Wood Harris, Mike Epps) to find a buyer. The Latino couple (Cisco Reyes, Yasmin Deliz) expecting the drugs are being squeezed by the kingpin (Emilio Rivera). The potential buyers (Omari Hardwick, Darius McCrary) are planning a rip-off but get ripped off themselves.
None of the performances are what these actors are capable of delivering. Several scenes feel devised on the spot, so little connects them to what occurs before or after.
Next Day Air is especially repugnant when viewed from the perspective of a citizen of any community, regardless of race, where violence and vice are serious issues killing children. This isn't entertainment, even in the most perverse definition of that word; it's just sick and sad.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs. tampabay.com/movies.