"Something Borrowed" Cast:
Ginnifer Goodwin as Rachel
Kate Hudson as Darcy
Colin Egglesfield as Dex
John Krasinski as Ethan
Steve Howey as Marcus
Ashley Williams as Claire
Geoff Pierson as Dexter Thaler Sr.
Jill Eikenberry as Bridget Thaler
Jonathan Epstein as Professor Zigman
Directed by Luke Greenfield
"Jumping the Broom" Cast:
Angela Bassett as Mrs. Watson
Paula Patton as Sabrina Watson
Laz Alonso as Jason Taylor
Loretta Devine asMrs. Taylor
Meagan Good as Blythe
Tasha Smith as Shonda
Julie Bowen as Amy
DeRay Davis as Malcolm
Valarie Pettiford as Aunt Geneva
Mike Epps as Willie Earl
Pooch Hall as Ricky
Romeo as Sebastian
Brian Stokes Mitchell as Mr. Watson
Gary Dourdan as Chef
T.D. Jakes as Reverend James
Directed by Salim Akil
As if to prove that bad "chick flicks" know no color, race or creed, this week sees the release of two different yet similar romantic comedies that make little effort to rise above the formula of their genres. I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from the target audience for either movie, but done right, there are ways to handle material for women without turning men off - case in point: "The Proposal" a few years back.
"Something Borrowed" is the first leading role for Ginnifer Goodwin ("Big Love"), playing Rachel, a New York lawyer just turned 30 and frustrated with her lack of a love life. After drinking too much, she falls into bed with her former college studymate Dex (Colin Egglesfield), who also happens to be the fiancé of her best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson). For the rest of the movie, the three of them spend a lot of time together preparing for Darcy's wedding, and it becomes harder to hide what happened as they spend every weekend in the Hamptons along with their mutual friend Ethan (John Krasinski), the constantly-horny Marcus (Steve Howey).
It's an odd coincidence that in "Jumping the Broom," Paula Patton's Sabrina Watson is also a New York lawyer, though her problem is that she keeps sleeping with every good-looking man who comes along despite how wrong he might be for her. When she meets Laz Alonso's Wall Street whiz Jason Taylor, he seems like the perfect man, but when Sabrina learns she'll be moving to China for work, it seems that relationship will end until he pops the question; she accepts with the condition that they wait until they're married before having sex. Jason's mother (Loretta Devine) is perturbed he still hasn't met her son's fiancée, but Sabrina invites her out to her family's Martha's Vineyard home for the week leading up to the wedding, so the two families can meet. As it turns out, Sabrina's old school mother and father (Angela Bassett, Brian Stokes Mitchell) aren't quite ready for Jason's less-than-rich extended family from Brooklyn.
The high concept premises make it quickly apparent why these movies were greenlit and financed, yet neither makes much of an effort to break new ground. Despite both titles making reference to weddings, only "Jumping the Broom" actually shows a wedding, the significance of the title being that the soon-to-be married couple can't decide whether to follow the African tradition or not.
There's generally a lot more going on in "Jumping the Broom," maybe because there are so many characters, each with their own motivations, but it also offers one of the strongest African-American casts since Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls." First, you have strong dramatic actors like Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine as the respective mothers who have completely different ideas about tradition. Then you have Mike Epps, DeRay Davis and Tasha Smith, each whom offer the type of laughs that they've proven to be their forté. Considering they're all on Jason's side of the family, it's not surprising how unbalanced the humor is. Meagan Good plays Sabrina's best friend Blythe, the type of woman with such high standards she has no interest in Jason's family, though she then gets involved with the amorous chef catering the wedding in an entirely unnecessary subplot.
"Something Borrowed" thrives on its smaller cast, and there's no denying that Goodwin--who at times reminds us favorably of a young Sally Field--and hunky Colin Egglesfield are great on screen together and are very well paired for this type of material. Over the course of "Something Borrowed," we flashback to Rachel and Dex in college, including the night when Rachel labelled them as "friends" allowing Darcy to steal Dex for her own. Jon Krasinski is far more tolerable in the best friend role than he does as romantic lead offering some amusing bits as he tries to avoid the advances of Darcy's friend Claire (Ashley Williams). Kate Hudson on the other hand goes out of her way to chew scenery and make an ass out of herself and she is so unlikable in this movie that you can't even remotely feel bad for her that her fiancé is pining for another woman. Steve Howey's Marcus just confuses matters by hitting on any woman who enters his perimeter.
The one unforgivable aspect of "Jumping the Broom" is its one token white person, wedding planner Amy, played by the normally funny Julia Bowen of "Modern Family," who spends the entire movie acting stupid and making borderline racist comments. It makes perfect sense most of the cast is African-American, but it's pretty off-putting to make the one white person so hateful - you wonder why they bothered putting Bowen in the movie at all.
As much as "The Girl Next Door" showed Luke Greenfield to be a solid director, he does little to elevate "Something Borrowed" from a long string of clichés and montages, even if it rolls along fairly smoothly until the last act where the various storylines clash into one confrontation after another. His impressive ability to keep the budget down by keeping most of the story in a couple of locations is also tossed out the window when Rachel travels to London to make up with Ethan after a fight. There's little reason for this change in venue, and the movie doesn't spend enough time for that detour to make sense. What really kills the movie is that in the middle of a particularly dramatic scene, Hudson and Goodwin break out into a fully-choreographed dance number to Salt 'n' Peppa's "Push It" for no particular reason. It's the type of thing that not only takes you out of the story completely but makes it impossible to take it seriously after that.
If nothing else, at least "Jumping the Broom" deals with some racial hot topics that many African-Americans face in terms of deciding whether to stick to their roots or rise above them, which is the real bottom line and the only reason the movie is remotely worthwhile. Even so, director Salim Akil seems to be out of his depth with the number of characters and storylines that are set-up, seemingly forgetting completely about an earlier scene involving Sabrina's father and a blonde mistress.
The Bottom Line:
Neither movie is particularly funny nor memorable, but at least "Jumping the Broom" has a few saving graces due to a solid cast and doesn't leave you feeling like you wasted your time; "Something Borrowed" rarely gets beyond its simplistic plot and Kate Hudson's ridiculous character, which makes you want it to end far sooner than it actually does. Hopefully, next week's "Bridesmaids" will show both of these how to do wedding comedy right.
Jumping the Broom