Jumping the Broom

Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton, Just Wright) can’t seem to catch a break.  She’s young, beautiful, smart and successful.  The only thing missing from her perfect life is the perfect man.  When she meets Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso, Miracle at St. Anna) in a fortuitous accident, things seem to be looking up.  After a whirlwind romance, he proposes to her and they plan to marry on Martha’s Vineyard before moving toChina for Sabrina’s job.  There’s only one small problem – The Watsons and theTaylors have never met.  I’m sure any married couple can tell you that when you marry someone you’re not just marrying them; you’re marrying their family too.

Jumping the Broom is as much about the importance of family as it is about finding true love.  Jason and Sabrina don’t know each other very well, as they’ve only dated for six months before tying the knot.  Jason has met Sabrina’s parents, but his family remains a mystery until they show up for the nuptials.  When we first meet Jason’s mother (Loretta Devine, For Colored Girls) it’s no surprise that he was hesitant about introducing her.  She’s testy and rude and was determined to dislike Sabrina from the start.  Sabrina texted his mother that she was looking forward to meeting her (instead of calling personally), and Mama Taylor proclaims “Strike One!”  I’ll admit that a personal phone call may have been more appropriate, but did she really commit a cardinal sin here?  Mrs. Taylor undoubtedly loves her son, but that warm embrace turns smothering, and as time goes on she exposes Jason as a coddled Mama’s Boy who can’t find his own voice.  Sabrina’s mother (Angela Bassett, most recently of Notorious) is more refined and polite, but she’s a different brand of shrew.  She’s good at keeping up appearances, but she has a few secrets of her own, including a marriage on the rocks.  TheTaylors arrive on the Vineyard, including Jason’s uncle, cousin and his mother’s best friend.  The Watsons arrive as well, including Sabrina’s father, cousin and aunt.  At first I thought screenwriters Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs portrayed some of the characters as caricatures, because NOBODY is that blatantly jealous, petty, and negative. But when I thought about it again, there are usually at least one or two relatives that can never seem to be happy for you, even when they should be.  When Jason’s mother pokes her nose in the Watson’s family business and exposes a long-held secret, the wedding is in jeopardy.  Does Sabrina really want to marry a man whose mother is determined to hate her?  Will Jason stand up to her and find a backbone?  If a man can’t tell his mother “no,” before the wedding, what’s going to change afterwards?  Mama Taylor must decide if she wants to gain a daughter-in-law or lose a son, the choice is simple and difficult at the same time.

Laz Alonso and Paula Patton did a fine job with their performances, and they had a natural chemistry.  I think Paula Patton should continue to refine her abilities, but she held her own in scenes with Angela Bassett, whose performances are usually above reproach.  Romeo Miller, DeRay Davis, Tasha Smith, and Meagan Good were effective in their supporting roles, but I have to give the nod to Mike Epps (Lottery Ticket) as the comedic voice of reason for his bitter sister who could not seem to loosen the maternal grip on her son.  I enjoyed the movie and found it heartwarming, but there were a few cringe-worthy bits of dialogue.  As the fish-out-of-waterTaylors arrived on the Vineyard, they passed a few boats.  Those boats have nothing to do with the slave trade, but upon seeing them a character remarked that he feared being shipped back toAfrica.  After finding out that Jason and Sabrina would be moving toChina another asked, “Do they even allow Black people inChina?”  I find jokes like these trite, exasperating, and humorless.  I know the writers wanted to contrast the Taylors and Watsons, but that contrast didn’t have to be so sharp.  I guess if you highlight the divisions between the families so pointedly, it makes it all the more sweet when everyone kisses and makes up in the end.  At the end of the day, I enjoyed the movie and would encourage those viewers who dislike Tyler Perry not to draw any comparisons to some of his films.  It was a pleasant outing at the movies that reinforced the importance of love and family, and what could be more appropriate on Mother’s Day weekend?  Check it out.

This article first appeared at www.poptimal.com and was reprinted with permission.

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