'Day Shift' review: Jamie Foxx hunts undead in so-so vampire comedy
The Oscar-winner plays an L.A. father just looking to make ends meet in the inventive but unrealized action romp.
Vampire movies should leave a mark, but "Day Shift" needs to sharpen its fangs.
Stuntman turned director J.J. Perry has a keen sense of visual action and he stages some high-powered sequences in this action comedy, even if his attempts at world building are never quite seen through. But "Day Shift" is mired by its juvenile sense of humor, which supposes if one pants-wetting gag is funny, two must be even better, without pausing to consider the possibility of zero pants-wetting gags.
Jamie Foxx stars as Bud Jablonski, the most unlikely character name for a Foxx character to-date, and this is a guy who played "Bunz" in 1997's "Booty Call." He's a Los Angeles vampire hunter who masquerades as a pool cleaner by day.
Pressed to come up with $10,000 to help pay for his daughter's tuition and orthodontic needs (Meagan Good plays his ex-wife, Jocelyn), Bud turns to making money the only way he knows how: killing vamps and selling their fangs on the black market, which is regulated by a stock market-like regulating tool known as "The Fang Index." (Peter Stormare is perfectly believable as the K-Pop loving sleazeball who nickel and dimes Bud for the undead's teeth.)
Bud is also forced to re-up with his vampire hunting union, and is saddled with a pencil-pushing partner, Seth (a grating Dave Franco), who is looking to ding Bud on any rule infraction he can. A potential "Training Day"-like scenario between the pair is squandered in favor of cheap laughs, and between them, Foxx and Franco can't locate a decent chemistry or groove.
Snoop Dogg, who plays top vampire hunter Big John Elliott, is all groove; a spinoff Netflix series where he smokes blunts and kills bloodsuckers is already overdue. But "Day Shift" is focused on Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza), a Valley real estate agent focused on turning low income housing into vampire dens, an intriguing idea that peters out as "Day Shift" builds to its generic close.
The screenplay by Shay Hatten ("John Wick 3") and Tyler Tice has a spark and director Perry, in his debut feature, clearly knows his way around an action sequence. But "Day Shift" is scattered between its gory and its comic impulses, and is too herky-jerky to find its center. Maybe by the time "Night Shift" rolls around it will have a better grip, and a little more bite.
Rated R: for strong violence and gore, and language
Running time: 113 minutes