Jumping the Broom

by Joseph "Jay Dub" Wade

EXPECTATIONS: Believe it or not, I actually had a choice this week. It should tell you how little regard I have for Something Borrowed that I actively chose Jumping the Broom instead (Sorry, Vargo). The last time I walked into a Kate Hudson movie, I woke up three days later in a dumpster behind a TGI-Fridays with no shoes and nothing in my pockets but a Fool's Gold ticket stub. I expect my experience with Jumping the Broom to go just a little bit smoother.

REALITY: If you asked me what genre of film was my least favorite, I'd tell you it was the 'Vacation' genre. Not vacation in the sense that the characters go on a wacky road trip and encounter all kinds of goofy shit along the way. No, when I say 'Vacation' genre, I'm referring to films that are little more than thinly veiled excuses for the cast and crew to go somewhere fancy or exotic for a few weeks while they shoot a movie. (See also: Couples Retreat, Grown Ups) Jumping the Broom tries for something resembling substance, but the film is so wanly written that you can see the plot outline lying around in the corner of most scenes.

Actual romance!Sabrina and Jason (Paula Patton and Laz Alonso, respectively) are getting married. Because Sabrina is about to take a job in China, they decide to rush the wedding and have it at Sabrina's family compound in Martha's Vineyard. Sabrina's parents (Angela Bassett, Brian Stokes Mitchell) are loaded, you see, so they think nothing of letting a gazillion characters into their house for a big wacky family wedding. Enter Jason's family (Loretta Devine as his mother, Mike Epps as his uncle, and Couples Retreat's Tasha Smith as a random tag-along). Despite Jason's success at a Fortune 500 company, his family can be described as "working class" on a good day. Over the long weekend leading up to the wedding, cultures clash, tax brackets clash, and a whole lot of drama goes down for no other reason than the plot demands that eventually something interesting has to happen.

Jumping the Broom is a romantic comedy in the loosest of senses. It bills itself as such, the trailers are cut to show you nothing but the jokes, and yet it's not funny. I didn't laugh once. Granted, I'm not even close to being this film's target audience, but that shouldn't matter. It's just not funny. And yet I know the film is supposed to be a comedy because Mike Epps is in it. There's a little-known law of cinema regarding Mike Epps. I like to call it the Epps Gauge of Humorous Intent. If you're a movie in which Mike Epps cranes his neck, leers over his sunglasses and goes "Daaaamn," then guess what? You're a comedy. That includes you, Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

Now of course, the movie isn't all bad. In between scenes of half-assed shenanigans, the majority of the cast does some decent verbal sparring. Angela Bassett in particular gets a number of scenes to emote like crazy. Sometimes, though, it seems like Basset has no idea what she's doing in this movie. Of course, she often acts as though she has no idea what anyone's doing in this movie, so it may just be a character thing.

Spoiler: They get married!

There's an elephant in the room here, and I may as well address it, or else I'll get a whole bunch of hate mail yelling at me for being afraid to talk about black people. (The irony, of course, is that if I do I'll get a bunch of mail from white democrats telling me how un-PC this review is. Go figure.) No, the elephant isn't the hamfisted culture clash between rich black people and poor black people. And it isn't the fact that everyone treats the wedding planner (TV's Julie Bowen) as a crazy white bitch. No, the thing that nobody seems to want to address is the fact that in casting Sabrina's parents, the filmmakers seem to have chosen actors who look exactly like Barack and Michelle Obama.

I don't know if this is meant to be some kind of ultimate wish fulfillment (Sabrina's father is rich as hell AND happens to look exactly the leader of the free world), or merely a happy accident, but it's noticeable. Now, what I'm not doing here is complaining. See? Look at me not complaining. I'm simply pointing out the fact that there are two characters in this movie that are clearly meant to be seen as the ultimate, be all-end all, do-no-wrong characters in the movie, and they just so happen to bear a striking resemblance to the president and first lady. Of course, none of this affected my opinion of the movie as a final product. The fact that Brian Mitchell looks like Barack Obama might just be a coincidence, and I'm reading into it because I'm trained to read anything into everything. If the movie had acknowledged it, it may have fallen into Tyler Perry-esque depths of comedy, and this film is at least above that level.

I can't recommend Jumping the Broom. It's 108 minutes of flat romantic comedy with characters who have zero personality. It's not funny in any way, but it's also not offensively terrible. It is a movie that is playing in theaters. If you need to sit and stare at some colors for two hours, this will do the job, though Thor has far more pinks and greens.

Culture Clash Quotient2/10
Martha's VineyardLooks more like a swamp
Broom JokesNot one

MINORITY REPORT: Oh, hey, Jay Dub's seeing Jumping the Broom. Heh, Sucker... Doo dee doo, I'm off to see Something Borrowed. Nothing bad can happen to me today. - Martin R. "Vargo" Schneider

– Joseph "Jay Dub" Wade (@JayDubSA)

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