Movie Review - Jumping the Broom
Paula Patton is Sabrina Watson. She decides to marry Jason Taylor, played by Laz Alonso, after only dating him for five months. She's a beautiful woman with long hair, a brilliant smile, and a curvaceous body, but she's not allowed Jason to have sex with her. The exact reason is not clear when in the opening scene, we see her in the aftermath of a one-night-stand.
Jason proposes to Sabrina after only knowing her a few months. Writer Elizabeth Hunter and Arlene Gibbs skip over the courtship. We don't see or ever understand why they're in love. I'm not even sure we learn what the two of them do for a living. Later, when people in the family question if they're rushing down the aisle, the audience questions it too.
Despite both being nice, loving individuals, sympathy and/or desperation, I'm not really sure the movie ever answers those questions of why the two are in love or why they should stay together. There is an implication at the beginning and at the end that they prayed on it and God threw these two literally in each other's path. Because it was divinely inspired, they figure they should stick it out and marry.
T.D. Jakes is Reverend James and even his character sees the writing on the wall. He questions the union of these two. Jakes also is the producer of this movie. Jakes produced Not Easily Broken (2009), another film about a black, married couple. That movie, however, followed what happens after the nuptials and how the two people have to deal with their differences, or even random situations that would drive them apart. It was an exploration of their relationship. Jumping the Broom is less an exploration of the couple's relationship and is more about the relationships that the bride and groom have with their families, specifically their mothers.
Angela Bassett is Claudine Watson, the mother of the bride, an upper middle class, African-American woman who lives in the lap of luxury and whose husband, Gregory is either a highly successful businessman or a highly skilled Wall Street shark. Either way, Claudine is wealthy and slightly elitist.
Loretta Divine is Pam Taylor, the mother of the groom, a lower middle class, African-American woman who lives in Brooklyn and is a widow. She works at the DMV and makes an amazing pie. Pam isn't poor in the sense she really, really struggles, but she is nowhere near the level of Claudine.
Pam meeting Claudine is of course a classic setup for a class-warfare comedy. That warfare is superficially played for laughs, not as funny as the 2007 episode of The Boondocks, titled "Invasion of the Katrinians," but it is amusing. Thankfully, the warfare isn't as broad, or as over-the-top as The Boondocks. In fact, I'd say this film is less a romantic comedy and more of a light-fare drama. There really aren't that many jokes beyond some guy being interested in a girl and that girl turning him down.
The rest of the movie is Pam and Claudine generally being annoyed by every thing about the other's family. At first, it seems like the two mothers are being too overprotective. Pam in particular even seems to hate Sabrina for no reason. By the end, after some soap opera-like revelations, we learn some root causes to the mothers' annoyances. Despite the writer trying in vain to make us think Sabrina and Jason won't end up together, the relationships that seem more in jeopardy are the ones between the mothers and their children.
Another film about an African-American wedding that takes place in the same area as this one, Martha's Vineyard, and has a very similar title was Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom. That film was more about the couple getting married. The only difference, the soon-to-be-married people was a gay male couple.
There aren't too many films about African-Americans falling in love and getting married, be they gay or straight. With the high statistics of African-American babies born out of wedlock, the tradition of "jumping the broom" is one that might not be known widely, especially to the post-Civil Rights generation. After all, jumping the broom is a tradition for black people that goes back to the days of slavery.
The question of whether or not the jumping the broom tradition is a requirement for an African-American wedding comes up. Questions relating to what is required to be an African-American in general also come up. Every culture has its customs that define it, but some people in this movie contend that those customs don't have to define every person of that culture.
This is especially true for African-Americans following the Civil Rights Movement. Prior to that, going all the way back to slavery, African-Americans were limited and discriminated as to what they could have and what they could do. In slavery days for example, getting married was something that African-Americans couldn't do, or at least it wasn't recognized. Jumping the broom was therefore born out of that non-recognition as a way of figuratively jumping over it. Hopefully, this film will be a way to remind or inform mainstream audiences of this tradition and why it's important.
Five Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for some sexual content.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 52 mins.