Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It’s Mother’s Day and my son decides his gift to his mom, my wife, would be to take her to the movies to see ‘Jumping the Broom’. An admirable gift you would think, but the caveat is that I have to go as well because he has no intentions of seeing the movie himself since he’d much rather slide over to the next theater to see ‘Thor’ and he doesn’t want his mother sitting all by herself. And I have to pay my own way. Clearly I have failed. Nonetheless we are here today to discuss ‘Jumping the Broom’ which was produced by the good Reverend T.D. Jakes, among others, and was a movie that my wife really enjoyed which is all that mattered on this glorious day for the mothers. Thus what I think about ‘Jumping the Broom’ is completely irrelevant but we will soldier on.

Sabrina (Paula Patton) is a young woman of a suspect moral nature who has laid it down for the wrong man for the last time and has made a promise to The Lord Above that she will not lay it down again until The Lord sends her the man that she’s supposed to marry. Then one day she literally runs into suave and debonair investment banker Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) and five windmill months later Jason is on bended knee, with ring in hand, in front of El DeBarge asking for Sabrina’s hand in marriage. It is all good.

As if. The thing is that Sabrina has never met a single member of Jason’s family, particularly his hostile postal working mother Pamela (Loretta Devine), an oversight which doesn’t make Pamela very happy. Get used to Pamela not being very happy in this movie. It’s not like Jason is hiding his people, but time just hasn’t allowed for this to happen and the whirlwind romance and… it’s complicated.

So it’s time to make our way to the exquisite splendor of Martha’s Vineyards where we meet Sabrina’s elegant, sophisticated, classy, French speaking (read: Stuck-Up) mother Claudine (Angela Bassett) and her scatterbrained wedding planner Amy (Julie Bowen) as they rush around to get the wedding affairs in order while the rest of the ensemble cast makes their way to the vineyards. This would include Sabrina’s dad (Brian Mitchell) who has a secret, Sabrina’s Aunt Geneva (Valerie Pettiford) who has

a secret, Jason’s uncle Willie Earl (Mike Epps) who is silly, Jason’s cousin Malcolm (Deray Davis) who is stupid and Jason’s mother’s best friend Shonda (Tasha Smith) who is… along for the ride. This ‘along for the ride’ thing gets the festivities off to a sour start right off the bat because you don’t bring unannounced guests to The Vineyards and you don’t bring your own sweet potato pies to catered events. These are things you just don’t do. I’m a classy type of guy, I know these things.

From this initial meeting of the mothers, things just go downhill from there. Pamela is consistently rude to and nasty to Sabrina, Sabrina wants Jason to stand up for her which he never does, Claudine is consistently stuck-up and snide and the rest of the friends and family members are just plain nuts. The Pastor (T.D. Jakes) warned these crazy kids that they will be tested, but did they listen? Of course not. And as bad as it was, it soon gets infinitely worse as it all goes straight to Hades. On the express train. You want melodrama, we got melodrama. There is no possible way that all of this mess is going to be resolved in the next fifteen minutes so we can have a wedding and have everybody be happy. It can’t happen! Who are we kidding? I just can’t believe she’s wearing white.

We’re poking fun at this movie but the truth of the matter is that director Salim Akil’s movie ‘Jumping the Broom’ was pretty darned entertaining. Similar to a lot of recent African American themed family comedies (cough... Tyler Perry... cough) the characters are broadly drawn, but they aren’t 'Tyler Perry' broadly drawn. Sure Claudine is a stereotype of a stuck-up, seditty rich person, but this is Angela Bassett playing this character and Ms. Bassett isn’t going to allow her character to devolve into a stereotypical rut and brings something extra to flesh out and humanize her character. Same goes for Loretta Devine who elevates a character who could’ve been stock ghetto-fab and takes her somewhere else altogether. Now a lot of this ‘something else’ in regards to the character of Pamela was a little disturbing, but where are we in one of these movies without a little melodrama overload?

Paula Patton and Laz Alonso were less lead characters and more Ring Masters to the plethora of characters around them, and there were a lot of characters to support with each character having some kind of off the wall situation attached to them, so we admire how Patton and Alonso were skilled enough to do what they had in this movie in regards to each other while catering to the other characters in this movie as well.

True enough the melodrama was a little too overbearing for my personal tastes. Okay, way too overbearing… I mean how much stuff can happen to one set of people in two days? The resolution to this mess was tidied up so cleany and completely that Molly Maid had to be involved and the numerous side stories didn’t do much to support the primary narrative and served little purpose outside of giving a lot of very attractive people some screen time. But to the filmmakers credit, they did cross me up on the father’s ‘secret’. Good job.

But the bottom line is that we all enjoyed our time spent on the melodrama overload given to us by the Watson’s and the Taylor’s and most importantly, the mothers on that Mother’s Day had a good time at the show. Even though the child of the mother I was with was nowhere around.

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