Jumping The Broom: From Payton Place to in your face

Jumping the Broom – 2011

Directed by Salim Akil

Starring Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Loretta Devine, Mike Epps, Meagan Good, Tasha Smith, Gary Dourdan, Julie Bowen, DeRay Davis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, T.D. Jakes, Valarie Pettiford,

Screenplay by Arlene Gibbs, Elizabeth Hunter

A whirlwind romance between a young couple, each from a different side of the tracks, Jumping The Broom shows that soap-style dramas come in many colors.  Everyone has secrets and no one is happy when Sabrina Walker and Jason Taylor announce that after a little less than a year, they are going to tie the knot.  He is from a working class background, and she the pride and joy of a well to do couple.  What follows is a collection of connections and reunions, some welcome, some not so welcome.  All of these are as tawdry as anything this side of Payton Place.

As her daughter, Sabrina, the gorgeous Paula Patton does the best that any girl can.  Her groom-to-be, Jason (Alonso) is as earnest as any young man could be.  There are no secrets here.  They are the real deal.  As the matriarch of the Walkers, the glorious Angela Bassett is Claudine.  She can run laps around most actors of this or any generation.  She is worth the price of admission to any movie.  Claudine, is concerned with the brevity of the romance that her daughter has had with her future son-in-law, is being as rigid as she can, and triple checking that this is really what her daughter wants to do.

Across the bridge, Pam Taylor (DeVine) is indignant at not even having met her future daughter in law before the wedding, and is going to make some waves when she gets there.  Along the way, she brings her friend, Shonda, and her brother, Willie Earl.  The bride to be’s father may or may not be leaving Claudine.  But let’s leave that for later.  Everybody has someone they are hitting on, winking at, putting down and grudging upon.

The entire second act is full of this stuff, and it gets pretty tedious.  No one really distinguishes themselves here, as it rolls with the smoothness of any Love Boat episode.  It is slow enough, creepy enough and contentious enough to make one want to turn it off.  The worst scene, in particular, is the rehearsal dinner and directly afterwards.  So awkward, so poorly written and acted, with Loretta DeVine standing out, and not in a good way.  One would be wise to stay the course.  The entire third act is filled with sweetness, contrition and recognition of good qualities.  Nice recovery.

Overall, it’s pretty much what you can expect from something of a Jane Austen or Thomas Hardy novel, circa 2011.  If you like drama with a capital “D,”  you will like this.  Strange thing is, it’s called a comedy.

Extra points for the opening credits song, Marry You by Bruno Mars.  Great, romantic use of the song, more sentimental than almost anything else in the film.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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