The hardest part is knowing where to begin. With the good or the bad or that gray area I always try to avoid, but end up trekking through. How about I start with a quote by Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton): “Its so cliche.” (forgive me for not putting the accent over the “e” but I’m using a PC to type this and I’m not too familiar with keys and all).
[side note: a few weeks ago i was invited to dallas to a brunch at TD Jakes house, and had a chance to sit with the cast and crew, and I truly think they are all amazing folks] – [shout out to larry d hylton]
Let’s start with the bad:
I’m an 80’s baby. A child raised on great television shows, perfect characters and excellent story lines. One of these shows, unfortunately for “Jumping the Broom,” was “A Different World.” I grew up watching Dwayne Wayne grow from college freshman to college professor. A streetwise, but cool weirdo from Brooklyn, NY, he was. Falling in line with the theory that opposites attract, Dwayne caught the eye of Whitley Gilbert, a young woman from that “lap of luxury” many of us have dreamed of. [I’m getting to my point, I promise] I loved these two people. Apparently Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs, the writers, did, too.
The life of Sabrina Watson and Jason Taylor were ripped from the campus of Hillman University. Remember when Whitley and Dwayne made us all cry on that final episode when they announced their move to Asia? Remember when we met Adele Wayne [Dwayne’s Mom] and Marion Gilbert [Whitley’s Mom]? Remember that dynamic? It was Brooklyn Bodega meets Martha’s Vineyard. Adele Wayne made prune cobbler for her son. Ms. Taylor [Loretta Devine] made sweet potato pie for hers. And then there’s the utter disgust on Ms. Watson’s [Angela Bassett] face as she’s introduced to the new Brooklyn kinfolk. That way of life they are not used to.
Damn me for being a huge fan of a Different World. This would have been a more original concept (assuming anything is original – but we know better).
I have a dream that one day casting directors [Twinkie Byrd] will cast actors based on their talents, not on their looks. How long do I have to grind my teeth together or peek through my fingers out of shame for Paula Patton?
I have a dream that one day Tasha Smith will play a woman who isn’t so quick with the loud comebacks and hood mannerisms.
I have a dream that we can make a film in which a black couple gets married and that marriage will not be the reason for all the negativity that occurs.
Let me go a little deeper for a second. [side note: I hate when people say they’re going to get deep because they rarely do. but I really will right here]:
Growing up, it was rare for my and my family to sit at the family table for dinner. I ate a friends’ houses and we ate in living rooms, bedrooms, front porches, and even while running down the street during a game of hide-and-seek we put on “time out.” Their folks never seemed to mind, and often encouraged it. I never really questioned it, assuming it was because something great was on the tube, or whatever show we were watching was more important that what we learned in school that day. But tonight, my thoughts have changed. No No No. It had nothing to do with what was coming from Cliff Huxtable’s mouth making us laugh and spill milk from our noses. Naw.
When was the last time I watched a film where a Black family sat at a dinner table and had a great time with no drama? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any. But I can think of the following:
-Color Purple: when Celie was about to bash Mister’s head in and think about Heaven later.
-Why Did I Get Married: where every dark secret was told, and a head was actually bashed in with a champagne bottle.
-Jungle Fever: The Good Reverend Doctor refused to eat with “whore mongers.”
The dinner table, in my experience, is not a place for a coming-together, but a place for a breaking apart. A place where I come risking my privacy, emotional stability and ego. Perhaps a filmmaker [me] should consider reconstructing this image.
I wrote an article a while ago about African-American authors writing the same story over an over. Not all of us, but so many. Are we not tired, yet? Just to cross a line, this re-occurrence could trip over into our relationships, and the bullsh** in which we frequently find ourselves. Over and over. What is it that’s keeping us from creating something new? [shoot…what was my point at the beginning of this paragraph?] OH! So every black woman still has man problems. Feel free to skip over this section if you disagree. And these are not my thoughts, but thoughts the film industry is attempting to drill into my genius brain. Gonna use character name (in the order found on IMDB):
Ms. Watson [Angela B]: In a relationship with a man who doesn’t even look her in the eye anymore. Her insecurities in the relationship lead her to believe her husband is cheating on her. In one scene she’s ready to cut the strings on the marriage and makes it evident that she’s given up long ago, but hours later he becomes the man she’ll never stop loving and refuse to live without.
Sabrina Watson [Paula P]: We are introduced to Sabrina sitting on a bed, just sexed, looking at the man she just slept with as he converses with his other lover on the phone. Her opening monologue informs us that she’s a whore in the process of reforming.
Ms. Taylor [Loretta D]: Her husband is dead, so we never meet him. But we do learn through conversation with her son that she relied on him to take the place of her husband. Not sexually, of course, it wasn’t that type of film, but enough to show us that she was left crippled after the death of Mike.
Blyth [Meagan G]: She’s fu**ing ball players, investment bankers, and now she’s at the house making moves on the chef, eating so-call aphrodisiacs from the palm of his hand, claiming this is now what she wants.
Shonda [Tasha S]: We’re not given too much info on her due to poor character development throughout the film, but we do know she’s old enough to be Jason’s [Laz A] mom. Assuming Jason and Laz are the same age , we’ll make Shonda at least 55 out of respect, and here we see her getting hot at bothered over 20 year old Sebastian [Romeo M].
Aunt Geneva [Valarie P]: The woman we find out, predictably, to be Sabrina’s real mother. Her problems with men stem back to Sabrina’s conception; Geneva being knocked at 16 up by a married man in France who told her he wanted nothing to do with her after her pregnancy confession.
That covers the main characters. I can go on if you’d like. Naw, I won’t go on.
Wait wait wait…was there a paper bag test the men in the film had to pass? Naw, I don’t feel like looking too deep into this. After all, TD Jakes represented for us darker shades of brown.
Dear Writers of “Jumping The Broom”,
I understand what you were getting at when you made Ms. Taylor from Brooklyn. After all, you stole it from A Different World, but why in the heck was she stereotypical mammy from the country. You even through the reference to greens and neck bones in there to drive that point home. WHY!? answer me? I was waiting patiently for a man in a dress to stick his head out of one of the doors.
I’m tired of lying to my friends telling them I’m psychic when I know the line that’s coming, or I can guess what’s about to happen. I’ve seen this movie a million times in the past 20+ years. Surprise me, black filmmakers. Write a NEW story, for God sake.
Speaking of God…never mind…let’s just write new films.
Why in the hell has Angela Bassett not won an Oscar yet? Not for this film, of course, but for something. She’s awesome. She carried the film. Even the scene they stole out of “Waiting To Exhale” (her sitting in the mirror putting on her make up and her husband coming to deliver bad news. you’ll see).
I did laugh often, and hold my breath at the appropriate times, and I even clapped in the end, because it’s always great to see black love prevail.
I was very excited to learn Mr Watson wasn’t sleeping with his caucasian assistant. In fact, that pulled me back from the edge. That would have been the ultimate cliche. However, I am pissed that it was foreshadowed (that’s the proper use, right? it’s late).
The performances were great (can i say “relatively” without being a hater?)
Again, Angela was great. Loretta never fails at her job, and Meagan somehow convinced me she was a gold digging schemer. Well done!
Oh Paula. Oh beautiful Paula.
yeah…that’s all I have to say about that.
overall rating: 6.5 out of 10 (um…go see it, but I wouldn’t be mad if you said you watched the bootleg).