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Something New - DVD Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}According to a Detroit Free Press article, 42.4 percent of black women never marry. Successful African/American TV writer Kriss Turner saw these numbers reflected in her own personal friendships and realized they were, quite simply, staggering. So she wrote a screenplay about the phenomenon. The result is Something New, a romantic comedy that, while falling into most of the inevitable traps of the genre, actually shows some original smarts and sophisticated humor.

Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) is a high-strung but successful black senior manager at her mostly white accounting firm. She comes from a great background her father (Earl Billings) is a doctor and her mother runs in certain social circles - her friends are equally successful and she just bought a new house. But she's terrified of falling into the statistical pattern that swallows up so many of her race and gender. So she reluctantly accepts a blind date set up by a co-worker. A white co-worker.

When she meets Brian (Simon Baker) who's handsome, sensitive, funny, interested in her and white, Kenya is visibly uncomfortable and promptly rejects him. It seems Brian doesn't satisfy the statistical struggle encountered by most African-American women in pursuit of the "IBM" (Ideal Black Man). Kenya has a rather lengthy checklist of what makes a man desirable, and being black is definitely on the list.

Brian is a landscape architect and Kenya's backyard happens to be in need of a serious makeover, so when he eventually finds himself charged with the transformation of her yard, he seizes the opportunity to loosen her up a bit. Brian is hired to put some color into Kenya's world of beige walls and dead foliage. Can he also force a bit of flair into her way of thinking about love and romance? The metaphors and allusions begin to fly, but not with the same eloquence and subtlety we saw in 2005's Sideways. Brian proclaims that he "takes hard earth and makes things grow" so we know it won't be too long before he softens Kenya's crusty façade and ends up in her bedroom.

The bulk of what follows is about the static and uncomfortable racial issues Kenya encounters from her friends and family. While Brian's running pals include his Golden Retriever and a few buddies down at the communal garden, Kenya struggles with the snide comments and judgmental stares offered by not only her girlfriends, but by her mother as well. It takes a touching dialogue by her father to make Kenya realize that she loves "a white guy, not a Martian."

The filmmakers manage to keep the proceedings light and humorous despite the heady subject matter. Surprisingly, rather than just present the issues and hide behind funny dialogue and uncomfortable racial tension, they tackle them with full force. Kenya attempts to satisfy her conflicted feelings by proclaiming, "it's not prejudice, it's just preference." Hamri and Turner run us through the thoughts and deliberations of most of Kenya's family and friends. From her womanizing brother (Donald Faison) who says she's "sleeping with the enemy", to her friends who jokingly refer to Brian as her "nightlight", the audience is given a healthy dose of insight from the black upper-middle class perspective, which is rarely seen on TV or film outside of The Fresh Prince of Bellaire reruns.

Lathan and Baker manage to generate some real heat together. Although they occupy opposite ends of the social, racial, and economic spectrum, their encounter is believable. Their talents shine in roles that call for a bit more meat than what is expected in the typical romantic comedy. Turner's dialogue is sharp and witty, but she misses more opportunities for eloquent metaphors than she nails.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

* Featurettes
o The Dos and Don'ts of Dating (4:54) - personal dating tips from the cast
o The Making of Something New (11:12)
o Introduction - From Blair Underwood.

Number of discs: - 1 Keepcase Packaging


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