AWFJ Women On Film – “Jumping The Broom” – Review by Susan Granger

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There’s a culture clash when two African-American families from divergent socioeconomic backgrounds get together to celebrate a wedding on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

After a disastrous one-night stand, corporate lawyer Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) vows to remain celibate until marriage. Then she accidentally hits handsome Jason Taylor (Laz Alonzo) with her Audi. He’s an investment banker and, after a chaste five months of dating, he proposes to her outside Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. She’s just been offered a lucrative job in China and he’s agreed to go with her. All they have to do is get married first -and that’s easier said than done.

Sabrina’s snobbish, pretentious parents, Claudine and Greg (Angela Bassett and Brian Stokes Mitchell), insist on hosting the wedding weekend at their sumptuous Martha’s Vineyard seaside estate. “Our family was never slaves,” Claudine Watson explains. “We owned slaves.”

“You need to get down off your high horse and come back to Earth – because you’re black,” snaps Jason’s outspoken mother, Pam (Loretta Devine), a U.S. postal worker from Brooklyn. She arrives with Willie Earl (Mike Epps), the brother of her late husband, and her best friend, Shonda (Tasha Smith), and then refuses to eat the food because, as Pam explains, “The shrimp is cold!” Plus, there’s Amy (Julie Bowen), the clueless white wedding planner, and the requisite last-minute revelations.

The title stems from an African-American wedding custom that dates back to when slaves were not permitted to marry and they, therefore, had to create their own traditions to mark this special occasion. Their friends would lay a broom on the floor, and the new couple would jump over it, symbolizing the start of their life together.

While screenwriters Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibb, along with veteran television director Salim Akil, combine their slight nuptial farce with conventional melodrama, the result is somewhat uneven – with matriarchs Bassett and Devine exuding such hostility that it’s difficult to lighten the mood.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Jumping the Broom” is a sparring 6, crammed full of familiar stereotypes.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.