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"Something New"

Directed by Sanaa Hamri.
Written by Kriss Turner (a producer for "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Everybody Hates Chris").
Starring Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Faizon Green and Blair Underwood.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  2/4/06

Folks-- 

From the moment I finished watching the trailer to the time that the movie itself finished, I have to admit that I really loved "Something New."

As usual, I waited a day to write this because I tried to think of things that I didn't like about the movie, and even now, nothing is coming to mind.  Certainly, as with any romantic comedy, you can never really be perfect (well, maybe you can), but in the case of "Something New", my checklist was complete:

  • Romance was believable, interesting, sexy and...well, romantic

  • The leads are easy on the eyes

  • Supporting characters were funny

  • The movie was short (for me, that's 90-100 minutes)

  • Guys can sit through this without trying to kill themselves

  • Preachy moments about love, "spark", and "following your heart" were kept to a minimum

  • The end wedding sequence (pretty much a requirement) makes me smile, not cringe

As an added bonus, the movie does a great job of selling a story that should appeal to everyone, even if it's a black film that features an interracial romance.  I was most worried about this--how much of the film will feature reverse racism that paints black people as unaccepting of white men dating black women?  I don't see this too much in real life, mostly because only a couple of my black female friends date outside the race...but, I have to imagine that the tough glares, the unhappy parents, the awkward social settings are still right there, so it was great to see them happen in the movie and be handled with a light touch by director Sanaa Hamri.

The movie itself was great.  Basically, we've got Kenya (Sanaa Lathan, who seems to be a stronger--and hotter--performer since I nearly killed myself watching "Love and Basketball"), a senior manager at a financial firm in Los Angeles, driven by work, career, status.  And, we've got Brian (Simon Baker, most recently from "The Ring Two"), man of the earth, a professional landscaper that quit his desk job to live life.  We meet the two, the two have that uncomfortable, feel-each-other-out stage where they get to know each other, and one or two mountain hikes later against her will, and whammo!  They're a couple.  Now the only trick is to convince their friends--and, mostly, Kenya convincing herself--that their relationship is more than just a fling.

Like I said above, "Something New" worked for me on all the levels that it could.  I bought that Kenya and Brian could get it going behind closed doors, and their initial struggles to tell their friends about the relationship rang true to me, having had mostly interracial relationships myself.  Plus, Brian's attempts to win Kenya over aren't as ridiculous a stretch as I seem to remember in other recent romantic comedies (jeez, even in "Hitch", there was that ridiculous "let's go jet ski on the Hudson!" sequence).  Lathan is hot; Baker seems to be hot, at least in the eyes of the women--black, white, and otherwise--in my audience last night.  The supporting characters--Kenya's friends, her brother (played by Faizon Green of "Scrubs"), one of her girlfriend's new love interests (Mike Epps, always hilarious), even Kenya's co-workers--are all pretty funny.

Other points for this film worked in my favor, too.  I had a great time laughing at the funny stuff; the film's flow is great, never bogging down for too long.  The ending was hilarious, and save for a couple scenes where Kenya's friends remind her about what's important in life--look, you HAVE to have those numbers in these flicks--I wasn't too anxious to jump out of my seat to get out of there.  Plus, the soundtrack was cool and normally, the tunes fit the scenes quite well.

One thing I didn't like was the fact that Brian seems to have no friends or no family; why it was decided that we wouldn't take a look at how Brian's social circle accepted (or disapproved of) Kenya is beyond me.  Also, a situation at work that provides us our only real drama--will Kenya make partner at her mostly-white firm?--almost crossed the line for me; I think that making it appear like the firm's most important client might be a racist didn't really have to be thrown in, given the other business going on.  But, these points worked out well and didn't ultimately distract me from my feelings about the flick as a whole--"Something New" is a great romantic comedy that is also just a great plain ol' comedy, a film that will hopefully be a nice distraction between shitty mainstream productions over the slow winter months.  Check it out!

Rating:  Opening Weekend

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09