If you’re anything like me, you were probably excited to see Jessica Williams in the trailer for The Incredible Jessica James. I remember first falling in love with her amusing political commentary on The Daily Show. It was her wit, honesty, and blackness that attracted me to her. Seeing an educated, unapologetic, and humorous Black women on a talk show was refreshing. So, I knew I had to watch The Incredible Jessica James the moment it came out.
The film begins with James on an awkward Tinder date where she tells him that she would much rather suffer a nonstop period for 1000 years than continue this date. James is struggling with her break up and trying to find a theater to produce her play. To make ends meet she works for a non-profit teaching a theater class for young kids. As she tries to deal with her breakup and the countless rejection letters from theater companies, she starts to see Boone, a recently divorced app developer.
This all sounds like your typical rom com, but Jessica Williams makes it refreshing and new. Jessica Williams gives us all the amazing Black Girl Magic we want and need without pretending to be flawless or perfect. She provides the wit that we know and love, while portraying the honest reality of a 20-something year old chasing their dream in New York City.
“Life is just a series of failures in the first place.”
I’ll admit upon seeing the trailer I was a bit wary at seeing a white love interest. No disrespect to interracial love, but I wanted some Black love. However, the chemistry between Boone, played by Chris O’Dowd, and James was cute and had me awwing. At first, an unlikely couple as both are dealing with recent break ups, they are able to provide comfort and closure for each other.
Even though this movie seems to primarily focus on James’ romance life, James’ job is just as important. The scenes with her students may be short, her interactions with her students are heartwarming. You can see her passion for theater and how much she cares for these students, particularly Shandra. She wants her students to achieve their dreams and will help them by any means necessary.
“What? I’m like insecure about everything.”
One of my favorite parts of the film was how James was brutally honest with herself. James knows she’s “fricken dope” even with her flaws. Her flaws do not mar or compromise her unapologetic-ness. Oftentimes, we can forget that being flawed is normal. Nobody is perfect and James shows us that. She proves that you can still be carefree and unapologetic even with all your insecurities.
Black actors, stories, and films matter.
In many ways, this film can be seen as conventional but also in many ways it’s not. Ye, this has a typical rom com storyline, but we don’t see many of these rom coms with Black actors as leads. Seeing a Black women, who is not just sassy or a sex symbol, in a lead role is so important. I’m excited to see where Williams’ acting career will go, just as excited as I am to see more storylines featuring Black leads.
The Incredible Jessica James doesn’t try to hard to be something it’s not, and I love that. If you’re expecting a cinematic masterpiece that will blow you will away, then this is probably not for you. If you want a short, but cute film, then log on to your ex’s Netflix account and start watching.
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