Movie Review by Neil Sadler
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Michael Epps, Donald Faison
Director: Sanaa Hamri
Maybe I missed the irony of the title but when a romantic comedy calls itself SOMETHING NEW, it is setting itself up for a fall. In a genre that relies on conformity, it is difficult to tell an original story when the outcome is signposted so obviously from the moment the main characters first meet.
The film tells the story of Kenya (Sanaa Lathan) a successful black accountant from a privileged background. She has everything she could desire professionally but seeks the love of a good man – an IBM or ideal black man as she tells her poorly sketched set of friends. On a blind date she meets landscape architect Brian (Simon Baker) and from that point onwards a very familiar story meanders to an obvious conclusion.
For a film that bemoans stereotypes, it contains more than its fair share including the pushy mother (an underused Alfre Woodard), the womanising comedy brother (Donald Faison from SCRUBS) and the worldly-wise father who dispenses sage advice at a crucial time in the plot. All this could be forgiven if it were either funny or had something new to say. Unfortunately it plays like MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, GUESS WHO, with all the humour siphoned from it. The one character who raised a laugh – stand up comedian Sommore – does so with an outrageously racist comment (asking “who brought the night light?” when Kenya brings her white boyfriend to an almost exclusively black club). These kinds of comments may work in more daring films, but as the film takes so few other risks – the comment caused only embarrassed laughs.
The one scene with any surprise and tension – an argument between Kenya and Brian about race as they wander around a grocery store – hints at the potential of the film. Perhaps if the film had concentrated more on the drama and less on trying and failing to raise laughs it might have been more interesting.
This is not an awful film. It is no GIGLI or SWEPT AWAY but when a romantic comedy lacks humour, characterisation or originality – it has very little to recommend it – beyond a nice bit of architectural landscaping.