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Dustin's Review

Next Day Air  (2009)
 Star
Directed by Benny Boom.
Cast: Donald Faison, Mike Epps, Wood Harris, Omari Hardwick, Emilio Rivera, Darius McCrary, Cisco Reyes, Yasmin Deliz, Lobo Sebastian, Malik Barnhardt, Mos Def, Debbie Allen, Lauren London, Jo D. Jonz, Shawn Michael Howard, Peedi Crakk, Lombardo Boyar.
2009 – 84 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for pervasive language, drug content, some violence and brief sexuality).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, May 6, 2009.
A crime comedy wherein laughs are nowhere in sight and each character is more deplorable than the last, "Next Day Air" is reprehensible trash that has no business showing up on a theatrical marquee. The film's behind-the-scenes team—among them, laughably-named music video director Benny Boom, first-time (and hopefully last-time) screenwriter Blair Cobbs, and cinematographer David A. Armstrong (2008's "Saw V")—exude nary a hint of talent or pizzazz. Truth be told, they barely seem to know what they are doing at all. While a creative camera angle or some snappy dialogue might have helped to ease the monotony, it is just as well that the film has neither. With no one to care about, nothing to learn, and no place to go, the miserable plot just sits there and rots.

Leo (Donald Faison) is a pot-smoking slacker who would have long ago lost his job as a Next Day Air mail carrier were it not for his boss also being his mother (Debbie Allen). When he mistakenly delivers a box to the wrong apartment, the contents—over fifteen kilograms of cocaine—end up in the hands of criminals Brody (Mike Epps) and Guch (Wood Harris). Deciding to sell it to Brody's drug-dealing cousin Shavoo (Omari Hardwick) as a way to make up for the bank robbery they just botched sounds like a solid idea to them. What they do not realize is that the expectant recipients of the coke, neighbors Jesus (Cisco Reyes) and Chita (Yasmin Deliz), have sought the help of Leo and are hot on their trail. So, too, is deadly drug lord Bodega (Emilio Rivera).

If there is a point to "Next Day Air," or some pressing reason why director Benny Boom felt this was a film in need of being made, it would be interesting to hear his answer. Clunky and drab from both a technical and subjective standpoint, the picture consists of an ensemble of characters without an ounce of morality between them doing despicable things for unsavory reasons. No one seemingly has a past or a heart, and all of them are concerned with little more than receiving, buying, taking or selling drugs. That the interconnecting storylines are treated with a light, comedic tone doesn't help matters. That none of it is funny makes matters worse. As the film presses on, the viewer is left to deal with shriveling brain cells.

"Next Day Air" is so bankrupt of ideas that there isn't much more to say or discuss. The cast isn't a bad one, but there is also no room for them to give a performance worth mentioning. The only pleasure derived from the film is in the brutally violent, decidedly non-comic climactic turnaround, wherein the majority of the characters are shot and/or stabbed to death. They get what's coming to them. Unfortunately, the few idiotic survivors are left to go on with their disgusting, dishonest lives. "Next Day Air" is a cinematic black hole, repellent and offensively inept. When so many worthier motion pictures struggle each year to find a distributor, let alone a wide theatrical release, it is downright maddening that something this putrid has achieved both feats.
© 2009 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman