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‘Boogie’ tells a basketball story, but Eddie Huang’s debut misses its shot

Chef/author Eddie Huang makes his movie debut as the writer-director of “Boogie,” a warmed-over collection of cinematic cliches that misses its shot what could have been a fertile premise, in don’t-quit-your-day-job fashion.

Like “Fresh Off the Boat,” his autobiography that became the basis for an ABC series, Huang explores the immigrant experience through the eyes of the family’s American-born son — in this case, a basketball prodigy who prefers the nickname Boogie (newcomer Taylor Takahashi), and has the swagger to go with his on-court skills.

Living in New York with his squabbling, unhappy parents, his dad (Perry Yung) has chosen basketball as the family’s lottery ticket, dreaming of a future that will see his son in the NBA. So far, though, the college scholarship offers aren’t rolling in, concerning Boogie’s mom (Pamelyn Chee), and raising questions about not-so-subtle racism regarding the prospects of an Asian player.

After that, though, everything about “Boogie” begins to fall apart, beginning with Boogie’s romance with a classmate (Taylour Paige), which falls mostly flat thanks to all kinds of clunky dialogue. The same goes for the sports plot, which hinges on Boogie’s inevitable showdown with the star of another school, Monk, played by rapper Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson, who was killed a year ago, and to whom the movie is dedicated.

Along the way, Boogie clashes with his coach (Domenick Lombardozzi), while mom enlists a manager (“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood’s” Mike Moh) to help try to maximize her son’s chances, a situation that only creates further tension between the folks.

Huang has a knack for looking at Chinese-Americans in a way that exposes the inevitable conflicts between concerned parents and their very American kids, such as when Boogie’s dad talks about visiting home, to which Boogie responds, “Isn’t this home?”

Beyond that, though, the movie seems to be grasping for drama and crises, and as a not-small aside, shoots its basketball scenes in a way that largely drains any excitement or suspense out of them. Having an opponent fling ethnic slurs at Boogie as trash talk on the court might add an edge, but the problematic nature of that otherwise goes unaddressed.

In one of the better scenes, Boogie’s dad makes him watch tennis champ Michael Chang winning the 1989 French Open, reveling in the accomplishment by a Chinese-American in a way his son can’t quite understand.

A few more moments like that and “Boogie” might have fulfilled its potential. As is, Huang’s introductory effort exhibits ambition and energy but ultimately doesn’t look ready for the big leagues.

“Boogie” premieres March 5 in select theaters. It’s rated R.

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‘The Talk’ returns with Sheryl Underwood remarks and an episode on race

“The Talk” returned Monday by jumping right into a conversation about race.

It was the first new episode since cohost Sharon Osbourne left the CBS daytime talk show in the wake of a heated discussion she had with fellow cohost Sheryl Underwood over Osbourne’s support of her friend, Piers Morgan.

Underwood questioned that support after Morgan’s negative comments following Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview with media mogul Oprah Winfrey were criticized as being rooted in racism.

Underwood opened Monday’s episode by explaining that it was the panel’s first time in studio since the incident with Osbourne and her exit from the show.

“We need to process the events of that day and what’s happened since so we can get to the healing,” Underwood said. “Over the next hour we will honestly discuss what occurred and explore some of our feelings. And we’ll also show you how anyone can become more comfortable with discussing important issues and having difficult conversations.”

The show ended up going on a brief hiatus after the debate and allegations surfaced via an article by journalist Yashar Ali that Osbourne used racist and homophobic language while speaking about her former colleagues on the CBS talk show.

Ali cited former “Talk” co-host Leah Remini, who spoke on the record in the piece, as well as a number of unnamed sources.

CNN has not independently verified the claims. A spokesperson for Remini confirmed the accuracy of her statements as reported by Ali and declined further comment when contacted by CNN.

Osbourne tweeted an apology for the blowup with Underwood and denied that allegations raised in Ali’s reporting in a statement from her spokesperson, Howard Bragman.

“The only thing worse than a disgruntled former employee is a disgruntled former talk show host,” he said in a statement to CNN. “For 11 years Sharon has been kind, collegial and friendly with her hosts as evidenced by throwing them parties, inviting them to her home in the UK and other gestures of kindness too many to name. Sharon is disappointed but unfazed and hardly surprised by the lies, the recasting of history and the bitterness coming out at this moment.”

Osbourne was the only remaining original cast member of “The Talk,” which debuted in 2010.

During Monday’s episode, Underwood and her fellow cohosts Carrie Ann Inaba, Amanda Kloots and Elaine Welteroth welcomed expert on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice Dr. Donald E. Grant to offer advice on discussing issues of race and nationally acclaimed trauma therapist and life coach Dr. Anita Phillips, who shared expertise on how to heal after a painful event or conversation.

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