This past year has been revolutionary in the multi-dimensional black led comedies we’ve seen succeed.
From Donald Glover’s hit FX series Atlanta to Issa Rae’s web series vision Insecure meeting enthusiastic audiences on HBO, blackness is well on its way to finally being an aspect of film and television that isn’t seen as “limiting” the projected audience. The Incredible Jessica James is sure to not just be another addition to the list of dynamic black projects released this year, but the Sundance hit is sure to join the league of classic romantic comedies that audiences go back to for years.
Starring The Daily Show with Jon Stewart favorite Jessica Williams, Jessica James follows an NYC 20-something unsure of where she’s headed in her career and love life. Sound familiar? While this premise has been explored an endless amount of times in television and film, Jessica James somehow manages to make the concept seem one of a kind. Jessica is an aspiring playwright, who teaches a children’s playwright class on the side. She’s tired of what her generation has settled for countless blind Tinder dates and for the most part unworthy partners, but she herself is not immune to the culture. Williams brings this character to life with a quirk and charm that drives the film. Her chemistry with every character she shares the screen really supports the story, and fans of Williams from The Daily Show will recognize and appreciate her signature timing and wit.
Jessica James also makes fantastic use out of its younger stars. With the subplot of Jessica’s playwriting class comes a cast of children who manage to be entertaining and observant without veering into the annoying precociousness territory. Shandra (Taliyah Whitaker) serves as a fascinating opposite to Jessica throughout the film, and effortlessly delivers hilarious quips that will be sure to amuse audiences. The likability of Jessica’s peers doesn’t hurt the film either. Master of None star Noel Wells plays the wacky best friend role to its full glory, and Chris O’Dowd weirdly charms as a love interest.
The Incredible Jessica James is familiar in many ways. The concepts and conflicts are all a bit played out and unoriginal, however, it still manages to impress. The characters are impossible to not fall in love with, and its clever writing makes the film’s overdone direction feel like the road less traveled. Audiences will be sure to take delight in this fun and easy summer rom-com.
The Incredible Jessica James hits Netflix July 28th.
We screened the film at BAMcinemaFest 2017.