Movie review – Mothers know best...right?

2011-06-17 14:19

Film: Jumping the Broom (Ster-Kinekor)
Director: Salim Akil
Featuring: Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Mike Epps, Valarie Pettiford and Gary Dourdan
Rating: 6/10

It is the pair of matriarchs in this culture-clash wedding party that makes Jumping the Broom irresistible.

Angela Bassett and Loretta ­Devine are the mothers – and they have a hell of a good time at ­either end of the socioeconomic spectrum, looming large as meddlesome stereotypes as they undermine, in the most well-meaning ways, their respective children’s walk up the aisle.

Bassett is Mrs Watson, mother of the bride-to-be Sabrina (Paula Patton). Rich and powerful, Mrs Watson always gets what she wants, and she wants a perfect wedding for her little girl at her beachfront house. And she is ­moderately concerned that she hasn’t met the groom Jason’s (Laz Alonso) “people”.

For Sabrina, a very smart young woman, Jason is perfect in every way – affectionate, willing to try new things,
well-educated and kind.

Except she’s done one dumb thing – she’s agreed to marry him without ever meeting his mother.

Drumroll for Mrs Taylor’s ­(Devine) big entrance...

She’s a feisty, ghettolicous mother who sees Sabrina as the competition. She arrives at the posh Watson digs from her working-class Brooklyn neighbourhood with her best friend (Tasha Smith), one of her lay-about nephews (DeRay Davis) and her brother-in-law Willie Earl (Mike Epps), who provides a witty voice of reason as things start to get really out of control.

Jumping the Broom is not ­original. In fact, it takes a rather tired formula and layers the ­expected stereotypes over every ­scenario.

Director Salim Akil is more at home directing episodes of TV dramas and so this film has the feel of one. However, the writing team is headed by Elizabeth Hunter, who penned Beauty Shop and Fighting Temptations, both films with a good few laughs.

There is a warning attached, though: it is produced by the ­Reverend TD Jakes so there are a few religious ambushes.

The film’s message, however, is that the biggest bump in the road to wedded bliss can be family.

One of the funniest roles is that of the wedding planner Amy, played with perfect comic timing by Modern Family’s Julie Bowen.

Her constant, careful political correctness and Wasp-ish reaction to the two families’ loud blow-ups are hilarious.

Another is that of Sabrina’s rakish aunt Geneva ­(Valarie Pettiford), who sails in for the wedding in glitter swoosh and stirs gleefully as her sister’s ­civilised life is thrown into chaos.

The title, Jumping the Broom, refers to the historical practice of slaves who were not allowed to get married legally.

To mark their matrimonial ­unions, couples would jump over a broom, symbolically tying the knot.

Jumping the Broom is a ­wedding worth crashing just to see the proverbial sparks fly as Bassett and Devine make all those mother-in-law myths true – and then some.


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