Thursday, April 14, 2011

Classic Wedding Movie Review: Jumping the Broom

I got a last-minute pass to Jumping the Broom this evening, and attended with minimal expectations, given that I had never heard of this movie and knew almost nothing about it.

Still, judging from the title it's about a wedding, and judging from the cast list it's got Angela Bassett, and judging from my senses that are capable of perceiving awesomeness Angela Bassett is awesome, and by all accounts it's free, so I'm in.

You have probably seen this movie before in other guises.

And it was freakin' awesome, right?

If your answer is yes, go see this movie. If no, avoid.

Because this movie, like others before it, follows a fairly standard path. We have a couple (Sabrina and Jason), whom we see very efficiently meet and get engaged, and then for most of the movie we have the main event of their big, flowery, fabulously planned wedding.

And there is much tension and occasion for both laughter and sorrow, because this wedding is an occasion for the previously unacquainted extended families of the couple to gather together, and these families contain many an interesting character, and there is much interpersonal drama on account of the families are very different.

In this case, one family (the bride's) is wealthy and oozing with highbrow culture and has a fabulous mansion on the Vineyard with servants and groundskeepers, while the other family is working class and lives in Brooklyn with jobs at the post office, oozing with forthright average-person quips and solid, homely traditions.

The groom's mother, Pam, is the one who wants the couple to jump the broom, while the bride wants to have a very "simple, modern" wedding without this tradition. (As Pam--played by Loretta Devine--explains in case we don't know, slaves on plantations couldn't legally marry, so jumping over a broom was the customary way to seal a union.) Sabrina similarly wants to avoid the Electric Slide, saying it's such a cliche at black weddings, but of course the groom's family wants this tradition as well.

The standard "modernity vs. tradition" arguments, and the working towards a compromise that represents the joining of two families with different ideas. Hilarity and heartwarminess ensue.

Members of both families obviously have moments where they shine and moments where they fail to shine, and in the course of the film uptight people are encouraged to relax, pushy people are encouraged to back off, and lessons are learned all round through the liberal application of ever so much melodrama.

Delicious, delicious melodrama.

We have family secrets! Misunderstandings! Culture clashes! Hashing out of old grudges! Last-minute issues that threaten to derail the entire wedding! Unlikely pairing off among the guests!

Every classic thing you would wish for from a dramatic wedding movie is here. Also, Angela Bassett. She plays the bride's mother, Claudine.

And everyone else was fine too. They played the material with sincerity and good will. I wished all the characters well.

In closing, if you liked this movie when you saw it before, you will probably like it again here. If you hated it before, you can probably safely pass on this version.


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