Review of Jumping the Broom

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A 2011 comedy named after the African American tradition that calls for the bride and groom to jump over a broom upon being married. The story follows as two families from opposite sides of the social circle unite for a wedding in the town of Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard. Paula Patton, Angela Bassett, Julie Bowen and Mike Epps star.
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Movie Review: "Jumping the Broom"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 112 min.
Release Date: May 6, 2011
Directed by: Salim Akil
Genre: Comedy

"Jumping the Broom" is the story of two people from vastly different backgrounds who happen to fall in love and decide to get married. The problems, and the major plots of the movie, stem from the couples' two families: The Taylor's, who are a working-class New York family, and the Watsons, an extremely affluent family.

Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) asks God to help her stop having affairs with unavailable men. Soon after, she literally runs into Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso). The two begin to date, and after only a few months, they decide to get married. Sabrina's mother (Angela Bassett) wants to be thrilled for her daughter, but she's not convinced Jason is the right man for her only child, while Jason's mother, Pam (Loretta Devine), thinks Sabrina is too nice and has something to hide.

As the wedding date approaches, things between the families are fine, mainly because they spend as little time together as possible. One sticking point between the two families is "jumping the broom," an African-American tradition. Pam insists that Jason and Sabrina must perform the act, while Claudine and Sabrina think it's unnecessary and borderline tacky.

The wedding is to take place in posh Martha's Vineyards, where Sabrina's parents, Claudine and Greg (Brian Stokes Mitchell), have a home. This requires Jason's entire family to travel to the Watson's home and stay as guests, something that worries Pam and the rest of her family, which includes her best friend Shonda (Tasha Smith), her brother Willie Earl (Mike Epps) and her nephew Malcolm (DeRay Davis). Another houseguest is Sabrina's aunt, Geneva (Valerie Pettiford).

The mixing of the two families gets a rocky start, because no one trusts anyone. Snide comments are exchanged, and the two mothers almost come to blows during dinner. A lot happens during the night before Sabrina and Jason take their vows, some of which puts the wedding and marriage in jeopardy. Other guests of the wedding begin to explore relationships as well, including a May-December romance and an opposites attract situation similar to Sabrina and Jason's.

Several secrets are revealed, while family members of both sides admit their feelings about each other. When Pam overhears an argument between Claudine and Geneva, she makes it her duty to reveal the secret to Sabrina before the wedding, and when the secret comes out, it is the impetus for Jason to cut the apron strings. However, the interactions also allow for some old wounds to heal.

Salim Akil allows his actors to portray their characters in interesting ways. Devine, as Pam, is especially adept in portraying a mother who is scared she is losing her son to a posh lifestyle, while Bassett's Claudine is believable as an affluent wife and mother, including her suspicions that her husband is having an affair. Mitchell is perfectly deadpan as Greg, a man of few words unless they are necessary, and then he has no problem standing up to his domineering wife. Davis' Malcolm is believable as the family member who always has his hand out, and Smith plays the perfect best friend, trying to keep Pam calm and stop her from doing something she might regret, even though she believes she is just trying to protect her son. This is really the point of the movie. Each family loves its members, and will do practically anything to protect it, even if it means hurting someone else. This makes them very similar to real families.

People who come from diverse backgrounds will be able to relate to the movie and find the humor in it. Families with colorful people tend to have family members much like the ones in this movie. Some might think that certain family members are a little too over the top to be believed, especially the two mothers.

Claudine is too controlling and domineering, while Pam is way too involved in her son's life. The ending is conveniently perfect, something that rarely happens in regular families or real life. For those whose families do not resemble either the Watson's or the Taylor's, the movie is still entertaining. The interactions between the family members are funny, and there is enough action and drama combined with the comedy to create an enjoyable film, even if it does require a certain level of suspended belief, especially at the end.

If you want a peek into what happens when you combine families from two different socio-economic and cultural worlds, then watch "Jumping the Broom," if you get the chance.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars