Review: The Incredible Jessica James

Jessica Williams in The Incredible Jessica James

Having a bad day? Watch The Incredible Jessica James. Exhausted by the news? Watch The Incredible Jessica James. Feeling depleted and in need of a jolt of creativity? Watch The Incredible Jessica James.

The Incredible Jessica James is an exuberant, joyful, celebration wrapped around a broken romance, a rebound romance, an all-powerful female friendship, and dedication to mentoring a young woman.

Jessica Williams as the main character owns every second of this comedy. She’s funny. She’s serious. She’s a daydreamer. She’s a teacher. She’s striving. She’s the bad daughter, the embarrassing sister. She’s rude but apologetic. To summarize, Jessica Williams is perfection as the complicated Jessica James.

Jessica recently broke up with her boyfriend of 2 years Damon (Lakeith Stanfield). She’s still obsessing over him, talking about him to new Tinder dates, and watching his Instagram constantly. She meets Boone (Chris O’Dowd) on a date set up by her best friend Tasha (Noël Wells).

Jessica and Boone are nothing alike, except they are both recovering from previous relationships. They manage to get through a meal by being completely honest. As they walk home they agree to unfollow their exes Instagram accounts. But they will follow the other one’s ex, and report back if something huge happens.

Boone randomly announces he’s very good with his tongue and they end up in bed on the first date.

Between the Instagram reports they are obliged to provide and the satisfying sex, they keep meeting up. These connections are interspersed with murderous fantasy scenes Jessica has about Damon. He frequently dies in these fantasies – a piano falls on his head, he falls off a ledge. The usual.

Boone, on the other hand, hooks up with his ex one day and Jessica stumbles onto it. It surprises them both that she’s jealous.

Jessica is a playwright, but she can’t sell a play. She makes a living teaching kids to act and write plays. She is fantastic at this job. All teachers should be so wonderful.

One student, Shandra (Taliyah Whitaker) shows particular talent as a writer. Jessica wants to take her to a weekend writing workshop. Tony Award winner Sarah Jones will be there. The scene where Jessica introduces herself to Sarah Jones is funny and poignant and gently wise.

But it’s Shandra’s weekend with her dad and he’s taking them to Six Flags. She’d rather go to Six Flags than a writing workshop. Jessica sticks her nose in Shandra’s business to the point of visiting her home and staying for dinner. Shandra’s mom (I think it’s Zabryna Guevara, IMDB is murky on this) is wonderful in the way she deals with Jessica’s intrusions.

Jessica gets a break. She’ll have one of her plays read on a London stage. She rushes to share the great news with Tasha.

Eventually Boone hears the news about Jessica going to London. He hints about frequent flyer miles trying to get himself invited to travel with her. Jessica wants his frequent flyer miles, but it’s more about female empowerment than romance.

The theme of the film is female empowerment throughout.

Everything about this film is fun. Jessica Williams is a huge talent. It’s on Netflix. I hope you can watch it.

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