The UK Corner

Urban Entertainment from a British perspective

The UK Corner DVD review: Jumping The Broom

Jumping The Broom captures a recurring debate that has been splashed across the headlines of numerous media outlets, the African American’s quest for love. But this film goes beyond niche appeal. It translates a single ladies quest into a universal pursuit. Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) has brought her milkshake to her last yard and resigns to reserve her cookies for a cutter worthy enough. The missing instrument in her life is soon replaced when she runs into Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) a Goldman Sachs Banker from Brooklyn.

Within six months the lovebirds are engaged and destined for a new life in China but their nuptials are as delicate as the name of their potential new home suggests. Threats to their future exist in the form of their polar opposite families. The Watsons are uptown; apparently wealthy and middle class; the Taylors are downtown; working class and sassy. Not even Sabrina’s mother Claudine (Angela Basset) and her hilarious wedding planner Amy (Julie Bowen) can protect the big day from calamity.

Director Salim Akil perfectly frames the tranquil and picturesque surroundings of Martha’s Vineyard, which are escapist but for the fighting in laws who cause ripples in the waters that threaten not to be stilled. Loretta Devine intimidates as Jason’s angry, dependent and over bearing mother Pam. Though she tickles, delivering some of the best lines. Her best friend Shonda (Tasha Smith) is the perfect sidekick while uncle Willie Earle (Mike Epps) and cousin Malcolm (DeRay Davis) join them on the ride to the island for the weekend wedding.

The geographical divisions are not the only ones explored in the film. The Watsons are divided by recurring secrets and lies in the form of Greg Watson’s (Brian Stokes Mitchell) secret phone calls and a secretive aunt Geneva, the multi-talented (Valarie Pettiford). While the numbers may be even, the wedding party is at odds to mesh. Blythe (Megan Good) is reluctant to succumb to her attraction to Chef McKenna (Gary Dourdan), and Malcolm’s game just does not add up to success with any lady. Sabrina’s cousin Sebastian (Romeo Miller), a 20-year-old senior at Yale, fares little better in his attempt to make a cougar out of Shonda.

Paula Patton and Laz Alonso with Bishop T.D. Jakes in the background

It is doubtful that love will conquer all when the Watsons and the Taylors clash over standards of etiquette and decorum, and argue about everything from the menu to the dancing. But the real sticking point centres on the tradition of Jumping The Broom. As the modern couple considers sweeping the symbolic custom under the carpet, the pre-wedding family dinner descends into a multi lingual fracas. But after dinner revelations cause the real upset.

Writers Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs deliver a smart, fresh and funny story with balance and subtle social commentary about culture, class, identity and values. They successfully juxtapose convention and innovation. Producers Bishop T.D. Jakes (who makes a cameo along with El Debarge) and Tracey E Edmonds produce a touching narrative with religious undertones, but the film is inclusive rather than exclusive. The soundtrack, which features Patton’s husband Robin Thicke, provides the perfect accompaniment to this romantic comedy, which is released in the UK just in time for Valentines Day. Viewers will fall for this movie again and again.

Jumping the Broom, rated 12, is out now on Sony Pictures Home Entertainment priced £19.99. Bonus material include commentary with Director Salim Akil, Paula Patton and Laz Alonso, as well as two featurettes: “You’re invited: Behind the scenes” and “Honouring the tradition of Jumping the Broom.”

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