Jumping the Broom finds its own personality
Starring Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine.
From its routine stereotypes to the castor oil–flavoured Bible lessons, almost everything about Jumping the Broom screams Tyler Perry. That said, first-time feature director Salim Akil brings enough sincerity and ambiguous emotion to this wedding-party dramedy to give the film its own, occasionally winning personality.
The tale pits Angela Bassett, as the snooty queen of a ritzy Martha’s Vinyard estate, against Loretta Devine, playing a Brooklyn mail carrier who goes postal at the notion of beloved son Jason (Laz Alonso) marrying into money without consulting her. Indeed, screenwriters Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs go the extra mile to have these matriarchs offend each other in wholly unbelievable ways. Given this artificial set-up, it’s remarkable that Akil skips the usual pratfalls, fat suits, and comical drag queens. Still, viewers should be forgiven for thinking that the relentlessly face-pulling Paula Patton—who plays Jason’s spoiled fiancée, Sabrina—oddly resembles a Bangkok ladyboy.
No such outré notions would be sanctioned by megachurch pastor T. D. Jakes, who is one of the producers here and plays the rev set to marry our annoying central twosome. Sex does play a major role in this union, since Sabrina has decided to save her “coolie” for when they get hitched. The filmmakers seem to approve, although it doesn’t keep them from setting up hot-and-bothered subplots involving Sabrina’s more interesting pal (Meagan Good) with a suave chef (CSI’s Gary Dourdan), and the ghetto mom’s middle-aged girlfriend (Tasha Smith) and Jason’s college-boy cousin (the rapper Romeo).
Broom, which takes its name from a custom that dates back to slavery days, is dully staged and shot, and it lacks anything like introspection. But religious vagaries aside, it’s actually about something rarely acknowledged on-screen: class conflict and changing values in America. If Bassett and Devine sometimes seem to be in a different, better movie, we can live with that, too.
Watch the trailer for Jumping the Broom.