Sexual Content Trips Up Jumping the Broom
- Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 5 May
DVD Release Date: August 9, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: May 6, 2011 (limited)
Rating: PG-13 (for sexual situations, language)
Run Time: 108 min.
Director: Salim Akil
Actors: Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Loretta Devine, and Angela Bassett
Waking up in a strange bed after yet another hookup gone wrong, Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton, Just Wright) has finally had enough. She tells God she’s giving up her bed-hopping ways until he finds her a husband. Fortunately for her, true love doesn’t have to wait long. She soon runs into Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso, Avatar)—literally, with her car—and wedding bells are set to chime.
So far, so good. The problems arise (as they so often do) when Sabrina’s and Jason’s families get involved. In a move clearly designed for disaster, the two groups don’t meet until the weekend of the wedding.
Jason’s mom (Loretta Devine, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family) is a government employee always on the verge of “going postal” no matter how many anger management classes are under her belt. She and her posse are definitely the downtown to the Watson's uptown. Mrs. Taylor is against the wedding from the start and by the time she and her friends from the 'hood arrive at the Watson’s glamorous compound on Martha’s Vineyard, she’s in fine fighting form.
Sabrina’s mom (Angela Bassett, Nothing But the Truth) is the ice to Mrs. Taylor’s fire. Her raging emotions are held back with iron control and sarcasm. However, cracks soon begin to show in her facade, especially when her prodigal sister arrives from France and Sabrina’s dad arrives with his “assistant” in tow. The setting may be beautiful, but things are about to get ugly. Fortunately for the audience, they do so in hilarious fashion.
Knowing that Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes was a producer of the film (and makes a cameo appearance), I was surprised at the amount of flesh on display. There are several protracted shots of Patton in her underwear, but even when characters were fully (albeit gorgeously) clothed, very little was left to the imagination. There’s eye candy for the ladies, too, especially when the men play a bare-chested beach football game.
Sex is ever-present in this film both as a plot line and a topic of conversation. One steamy scene in the kitchen brought back memories of Bull Durham while a sultry rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” was almost uncomfortable. A college boy’s pursuit of a much older woman is played for laughs (are pedophile jokes really funny?), and the rest of the houseguests seem more interested in “who” rather than “what” they can do. Hedonists all, they are united in amazement at the thought that the happy couple could really have survived for six whole months without ‘doing the deed.’
Despite that, this is a very funny movie—and it’s an accessible humor not limited to one race or class. The one exception to that rule is the hapless wedding planner played by Julie Bowen (TV’s Modern Family). Her character has apparently never seen a person of color before and is too clueless to keep any passing thought to herself. It was funny at first but as the time went on and her wide-eyed wonder continued unabated it became a mildly annoying distraction. Other than that, the pace is excellent, moving quickly from laugh to laugh, showcasing the beautiful setting and glorious clothing while eventually managing to make a point.
“Jumping the broom” refers to a tradition from slave days, when those who did not have the legal right to marry marked their commitment to each other by a ceremonial hop over a broom. Mrs. Taylor looks on this as honoring their roots. Mrs. Watson sees it as an outdated custom. For the bride and groom it’s one more thing to argue about. In the end, each has to learn to respect the others’ perspective. Despite their flaws, both families are sympathetic enough that when all ends well it’s a sweet ending that brings a smile.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Alcohol flows freely and most characters imbibe with abandon.
- Language/Profanity: He**, a character called a who** (in French with subtitles).
- Sex/Nudity: Sex is a predominant theme of the film and the topic of much of the conversation, some explicit. One character says she’s “a hermaphrodite.” Several underwear and bikini shots, some involving heavy petting. Even fully clothed, many characters are scantily clad. A make-out scene is interrupted almost too late. Sultry rendition of “Sexual Healing,” pedophile joke, too many references to list.
Violence: A well-placed (and well-deserved) punch thrown.