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Taraji P. Henson,
"The Brothers" traces the journey of four African-American men as they take on love, sex, friendship and two of life's most terrifying prospects honesty and commitment. Smart, successful and sexy, Jackson Smith, Brian Palmer, Derrick West and Terry White are "The Brothers" lifelong friends banded together to weather love's innate terrors and occasional triumphs in this brazenly comic yet painfully true exploration of the battle between the sexes. Amidst the career track, basketball and bar hopping, "The Brothers" love women, as many as possible, but shocking revelation tests the foursome's friendship and changes their dating habits forever. Written by
"The Brothers" is unlike many romantic comedies in recent years, which is why I'm surprised at the very, very low rating. A 4.3 with the majority of voters rating it a 1? I don't know whether people prefer the more conventional romantic fluff, which they're used to, or can't handle one that takes time for character development. And after watching the featurette on the DVD, as well as the vastly impressive commentary by writer/director Gary Hardwick, I've gained an even better understanding of the film. I gained a good enough understanding on my first viewing, but the commentary clarified everything.
Though the central cast is male, the film doesn't take on a mysogynist tone. We get the views of the men, as well as the women. And the dialogue between each sex is sharp and witty, unlike for instance the final scene from the filthy sex comedy "Whipped" where the dialogue between the females are reduced to chat about penis size.
The acting is very well done. I've never watched "Young and the Restless" (nor any soap), so I haven't seen any of Shemar Moore's previous work, but judging by his performance in this movie he has good potential on the big screen. He already has it made in the looks department. Some of my female friends wanted to this movie just because of Shemar. Well, he has a lot of shirtless scenes, so I don't think the women will be the least bit disappointed. DL Hughley is hilarious as usual. When has he not been? There's a great scene where he chats with his mother (played by veteran TV actress Marla Gibbs) at a nursing home, and she reveals that she was drinking while pregnant with him. The chemistry between them in that particular scene is perfect. Bill Bellamy (fellow stand-up comedian) is also funny as pretty much the philosopher of the group. He also gets the chance to show off his talent as a dramatic actor. On the subject of mother-son interactions, he has a nice, subtlely powerful scene where he confronts his Mom about her lack of showing her feelings around him. And in that scene, he begs her for a hug. Finally, Morris Chestnut gives another fine performance as a pediatrician/cassanova, who falls for one of his patient's sisters (the beautiful Gabrielle Union). Of course, I can't leave Clifton Powell off the list. He's great as Morris' father, who turns out to have a sexual history with Gabrielle.
Tatyana Ali showed that she has evolved as an actress, since playing Ashley Banks on "Fresh Prince of Bel Air." She has an amazingly commanding screen presence. Tamala Jones (from "Booty Call") is a good comic actress (and she's beautiful too :0), and has some funny interactions with DL, who plays her husband. That includes one where she refuses to (How do I put this in a clean fashion?) please DL orally. 'Cause apparently, "it causes cancer."
Director Hardwick modeled the four characters after the four sides of his personality. The Bill Bellamy character is a lawyer, which he is. And he has been married in the past, with the usual jitters when it comes to commitment (like Shemar's character). The movie is about friendship, commitment, temptation, love, honesty, all the things that go into a serious relationship. And it's done in a way that's funny and insightful. At points, quite moving. I like the dialogue. I like the way the actors talk like real people, and not actors maneuvered by the script like chess pieces. It all has a natural flow.
Not to sound preachy, but it's nice that every once in a while a film comes along to portray African-Americans in a positive light. How often do we see a film (directed by an African-American) where the central (black) characters are doctors and lawyers? Too often black filmmakers seem to adore subject matter involving young black males growing up in "the hood" and dodging thugs left and right. Is this really how we want black people portrayed? Better yet, do blacks themselves want people of their race to be portrayed in that fashion? Films like Hype Williams' "Belly" are one step away from minstrelsy, except minstrelsy was created by white people. And whenever a film like "Save the Last Dance" comes by, where there happens to be some negative black characters and it happens to be directed by a white person, guess which race takes the bad rap? I'm just saying blacks should make more positive movies about themselves before they complain to whites about portraying them negatively.
Now, my only criticism is the portrayal of white women. I'm sure you think I'm a racial activist by now (LOL), but I'm really not. I'm just voicing out my honest opinion. The Julie Benz character is portrayed as this subservient female who's supposed to get Bellamy (who plays her lover) a sandwich whenever she wants, pour him a glass of wine whenever she wants and do all these things, 'cause apparently white women will do anything a man tells her to do, as opposed to black women who put up a fight. Well, just like most movies about interracial relationships, we have the whole conflict, including one where Benz and Bellamy are confronted by his former lover (Angelle Brooks) who complains about white women stealing all "their" black men. Can't we have a film that comes along that treats the subject of interracial relationships well, absent of all this preachy bulls**t? And have a white women portrayed as more than a mindless ditz?
Despite that one flaw, I found "The Brothers" very impressive, very original, very funny and very entertaining. And I liked the song's theme "Love Don't Love Me" by Eric Benet. It gives the film a more upbeat tone. If you're looking for an escape from the conventional fluff of this genre, I definitely recommend this movie!
My score: 7 (out of 10)
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