Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two wedding invitations from Hollywood

This weekend, Hollywood has issued invitations to two weddings, but I wouldn't necessarily rush to RSVP. Both movies -- Something Borrowed and Jumping the Broom -- have problems, but given the choice, I'd head for Martha's Vineyard, where the livelier and slightly more realistic Jumping the Broom takes place. Both movies have a sitcom flavor and both are heavily reliant on contrivance, but I prefer Angela Bassett and Paula Patton (as mother and daughter) to Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson (as best friends). Besides, Jumping the Broom, unlike its competitor, offers some real laughs.


In the thoroughly mediocre Something Borrowed, Ginnifer Goodwin plays Rachel, a lawyer who has two best friends: Darcy (Kate Hudson), a woman Rachel has known since childhood, and Dex (Colin Egglesfield), a guy with whom she attended law school. When Rachel fails to acknowledge her romantic interest in Dex, Darcy swoops in for the kill. Dex and Darcy clearly make for an oil-and-water couple, but they're soon engaged. It doesn't take long for the movie to start feeling like junior high school with the principal characters trying to outdo one another. Meanwhile, Rachel's level-headed buddy (John Krasinski) encourages her not to defer to Darcy. The trailer gives away the movie's major twist, so I don't feel bad about including it in this brief review: Rachel and Dex sleep together, which puts Dex in a tough spot. He must decide whether to go through with the wedding or follow his heart. Goodwin (the new Doris Day?) knows how to handle this kind of role; Hudson tends to be shrill and over-the-top; and Egglesfield seems longer on looks than personality. As romcoms go, Something Borrowed feels entirely familiar, less a full-bodied movie than a cardboard cutout.


After a variety of unsatisfying one-night stands, Paula Patton's Sabrina pledges not to sleep with another man until she's married. It doesn't take long for Sabrina to become engaged to Jason (Laz Alonso), a New York investment banker who grew up in downscale Brooklyn. Conflicts arise when it becomes clear that Sabrina's well-heeled family is unprepared to accept Jason's mom, a truculent postal worker played by Loretta Devine. Devine squares off against Angela Bassett, who plays Sabrina's take-no-prisoner's mom. The script by Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibb finds comedy in class conflict as families and friends gather at the Martha's Vineyard home where the wedding is to be held. The script also makes room for a couple of stock characters who add humor: the outspoken Shonda (Tasha Smith), best friend of the groom's mother, and Willie Earl (Mike Epps), the groom's equally outspoken uncle. The movie was produced by J.D. Jakes, a Dallas-based preacher who may be responsible for the movie's mild religious tilt. To its credit, though, Jumping the Broom seems more interested in entertaining than in proselytizing. The movie is not without clinkers, not the least of which involves a melodramatic twist the script easily could have done without. But director Salim Akil keeps the movie percolating as it heads toward its predictable conclusion, having only flirted with a few real issues, but at least acknowledging the world in which they exist.

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