Jumping the Broom | Film review
Two families—one rich and one not—are forcefully united in this winning ensemble comedy.
Long before he was a speechwriter for the Obama administration, Desson Howe penned movie reviews for The Washington Post. As a critic, he held in high regard films like Love & Basketball, The Best Man and Brown Sugar—movies that, in his words, looked for “the class, not the crass, in African-American life.” Howe got out of criticism shortly after Tyler Perry got into Hollywood. Still, you wonder what the former reviewer will make of Jumping the Broom, a comedy of manners that revives the same loose, lively and refreshingly adult spirit of those earlier films for the Madea era.
The premise is Perryesque: Brought together on Martha’s Vineyard for the marriage of Sabrina (Patton) and Jason (Alonso), the uptown Waltons and the downtown Taylors fuss and feud. Their culture-clash differences are nothing a gun-toting grandma couldn’t sort out, but such walking cartoons are blessedly absent from the guest list.
Jumping the Broom has the narrative tidiness of a sitcom, but also the spiky personalities of a sprawling ensemble comedy. Akil pairs off his mismatched wedding guests and gets them talking—about race, sex, gender and tradition. There’s not a single caricature among them, nor is there a weak link in the film’s cast of familiar faces. The MVPs are Bassett and Devine, reunited Waiting to Exhale besties, here playing at-odds matriarchs. Their rehearsal-dinner standoff is a hilarious highlight, with class and crass in squirm-worthy equilibrium.