Jessica Williams Is A Delight In “The Incredible Jessica James”: BUST Review

by Erika W. Smith

Jessica Williams logged countless hours on the Daily Show before departing in 2016, but she has not yet appeared in many movies. Her biggest film role so far has been a supporting role in 2015’s People Places Things, where she played Regina Hall’s daughter. But fans of Williams have been yearning to see her star in her own film — and Netflix’s the Incredible Jessica James — directed by Jim Strouse, who also directed Williams in People Places Things — finally gives us that.

Williams stars as the titular Jessica, a young woman who is trying to make it as a playwright in New York City, while also teaching kids how to write plays at a non-profit to pay the bills (which are low because she lives in “deep Bushwick”). Reeling from a breakup with her gorgeous phone case woodworker ex (Lakeith Stanfield, who you’ll recognize from Atlanta and Get Out), Jessica begins to move on after her best friend Tasha (Noël Wells) sets her up with a hot and sad recent divorcé, Boone (Chris O’Dowd). At first, Jessica and Boone’s relationship is purely sexual, as well as sympathetic, as they commisserate about their heartbreaks. They even decide to unfollow their exes on Instagram and follow each other’s exes instead, reporting back at regular intervals. Eventually, they begin to develop feelings for each other — though of course, this is a rom com, and no rom com relationships are without their complications.

The film isn’t all romance, however. We also see Jessica building a connection with one of her talented young students, chasing her own playwright dreams, and feeling a major disconnect from her family in Ohio — as highlighted in a hilarious scene where Jessica gives her pregnant younger sister a handmade children’s book about smashing the patriarchy. (Also incredibly #relatable to us fellow Midwestern-by-birth New York transplants — I’m from Michigan.)

The Incredible Jessica James isn’t reinventing the rom-com, but it doesn’t need to. It’s sweet, smart, and funny, and makes me want to see Jessica Williams star in all of the things. It’s on Netflix today, so watch it right now. 

Top photo: Incredible Jessica James / Netflix

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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