'Jumping the Broom' Has Different Volumes

The marriage of Sabrina and Jason brings together two very different families, a premise with both comedic and instructive possibilities.

Jumping the Broom

Director: Salim Akil
Cast: Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Mike Epps, Meagan Good, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tasha Smith, Julie Bowen
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Sony/TriStar
Year: 2011
UK release date: 2011-06-10 (General release)
US release date: 2011-05-06 (General release)

There's no doubt that Jumping the Broom seeks to please an under-served audience, with a story that could have worked. The marriage of Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) and Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) brings together two very different families, a premise with both comedic and instructive possibilities.

Sabrina comes from well-heeled parents (Angela Bassett and Brian Stokes Mitchell), while Jason was raised by his hard-working but overbearing mother (Loretta Devine). Mrs. Taylor comes to the Martha's Vineyard wedding with a particular chip on her shoulder, feeling slighted that she's never met Sabrina, even though the Watsons know Jason. She also has particular suggestions for the ceremony, like the symbolic "jumping the broom" of the title, that don't match the Watsons' tonier aesthetics. The two strong-willed mothers -- studies in controlling uptightness at different volumes -- clash amid much family drama, which is to say Bassett and Devine have opportunities to overact. Devine does her now familiar fit-throwing routine, and Bassett turns her unsmiling face to disapproving stone.

Fortunately, Jumping the Broom also features a large and appealing ensemble, like Mike Epps as Jason's Uncle Willie Earl and Meagan Good as Sabrina's high-standards friend Blythe. Less fortunately, many characters get worked into a rich, soapy lather by the movie's endless revelations and confrontations. Sabrina seems to be the main character until the movie loses focus. She's hardly helped by her pairing with the terminally bland Jason, who spends most of the movie looking vaguely ill.

Their lack of chemistry is further flattened by the film's structure. Director Salim Akil is a TV veteran, and despite his experience with the ensemble casts of Girlfriends and The Game, this transition into features is bumpy. Sometimes he and editor Terilyn A. Shropshire take delight in the large cast, making clever matching shot transitions between groups at the different wedding parties. Elsewhere, though, the film is less visually astute: a scene focused on Sabrina and Jason cuts between long shots and close-ups so indiscriminately that it begins to resemble a slowed-down Tony Scott movie. Such disorganization is only enhanced by the unwieldy screenplay, which has characters taking theatrical pauses and making expositional small talk, some sounding like the run-up dialogue to musical numbers that never materialize.

The film also displays the imprint of producer T.D. Jakes, the pastor turned multimedia multi-hyphenate. Jumping the Broom, the third of his faith-based films, branches out into class conflicts, and indeed, examines how the Watsons and the Taylors engage differently with their cultural histories and traditions. But the movie's bizarre religious framework is distracting. Early in the film Sabrina makes a promise to God to withhold her affections until she finds the man she will marry. When she meets Jason, she takes this as an answer to her prayers -- and refuses to sleep with him until their wedding night. Maybe Jason looks so ill at ease because he's feeling overpowered by the tedious moralism layered over opportunities for comedy or drama.

It's not objectionable, of course, that Sabrina maintains her faith. But rather than explore the complexities of her efforts to reconcile her experiences with an intellectual, borderline pretentious family with her deep, specific commitment to her religion, the movie simply takes it as a given that anyone and everyone has the same vague but insistent beliefs. Characters go on about God's plans, so the movie seems to preempt any potentially combustible situations, and so become weirdly passive about its own conflicts.

Faith doesn't inform individual decisions here so much as it acts as continuing reassurance that none of the plot turns -- which range from farcical to ridiculous to sitcom-simplified -- matter all that much, even as melodrama.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.