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October 13, 2012

Jumping the Broom

by Franz Patrick


Jumping the Broom (2011)
★★★ / ★★★★

Sabrina (Paula Patton) was sick of sleeping with men who looked good but only equipped with half a brain, so she made a deal with god: If she found the man she was meant to settle down with, she would stop substituting sex for feelings of intimacy. While driving, she accidentally hit Jason (Laz Alonso). After knowing each other for only six months, they decided to get married. One problem: their families were to meet for the first time only a day prior to the wedding. Based on the screenplay by Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs, “Jumping the Broom” may have fallen over some pitfalls common to the wedding day subgenre, but I enjoyed it because it had something important to say about the divide between the rich and working class African-Americans. Sabrina came from a lavish lifestyle but Jason had to work his way up. The writers were fair to both parties and it was made clear that it was okay, even necessary, for us to judge them. Mrs. Watson (Angela Bassett), Sabrina’s mom, despite her attempts to mask the fact, looked down on Jason’s background. If she had an ounce of respect, she would have called Mrs. Taylor (Loretta Devine), Jason’s mom, when she needed a favor instead of sending an impersonal text. But Mrs. Taylor wasn’t free from certain prejudices. She was threatened by big houses, yachts, and Ivy League education. She coped with her fear by shutting down and not giving Sabrina’s family a chance to prove that there was more to them than expensive properties. Bassett and Devine were wonderful in their roles because they portrayed strong women with even stronger convictions. The film was at its best when it focused on their feelings of inadequacies and facing uncertainties. The arguments, though they contained a range of hilarity, was painful at their core because a future between two people who genuinely loved one another was at stake. I wasn’t always sure if the couple would end up together in the end or they would just call it quits. I liked that it kept me guessing. While I adored a handful of the supporting characters, for instance, Julie Bowen as the nervous wedding planner and Tasha Smith as Mrs. Taylor’s co-worker and best friend, there were others who simply served as hollow decoration. For example, Meagan Good as an uppity maid of honor with a specific taste in men served more like a distraction from the conflict between the two families. She was neither funny nor interesting. Being a maid of honor, a rather important person in weddings, I expected her to be there for the bride when she hit rock bottom. Instead, she had her eye on the chef (Gary Dourdan). “Jumping the Broom,” though it succumbed to typicalities, captured the difficulties of uniting vastly disparate families. With every broken tradition and expectation, there was pain, anger, regret. But, as with families who love unconditionally, there was room for forgiveness, too.

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