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Brown Sugar (PG-13)
Fox Searchlight Productions
Official Site
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Producers: Peter Heller, Trish Hoffman, Earvin “Magic” Johnson
Written by: Michael Elliot, Rick Famuyiwa
Cast: Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Mos Def, Nicole Ari Parker, Boris Kodjoe, Queen Latifah

Rating: out of 5

This film pivots around the question, when did you fall in love with hip-hop? Hip-hop has a not-so-clever double meaning, though. One, the genre of music popularized by black artists mixing rhyme and rhythm. Two, the delectable Taye Diggs. See, main characters Sidney (Lathan) and Dre (Diggs), meet hip-hop, and each other, one idyllic day in a Brooklyn park during their childhood. The two become best friends bound by their love of the music. The film skips forward 20 years and we find them magically in high-profile, music industry careers, she as popular hip-hop magazine editor, he as discontented mainstream record label executive.

Brown Sugar is amusing but predictable, cute but simplistic, and altogether harmless. Dre marries Reese (Parker), after shrugging off an intense smooching session with Sid the night before his wedding. Super-cool, model-gorgeous Reese is really intimidated by Sid and Dre’s close friendship. Sid gets engaged to an ultra-hunky, ultra-rich New Jersey Nets player (Kodjoe), who also gets annoyed by her “platonic” friendship with Dre. And, after a series of formulaic affairs, coincidental misunderstandings, and love confessions, guess who gets together in the end? You got it.

But wait! There’s also a subplot. Dre works for Millennium Records. He discovers a talented young MC (Def) who refuses to sell out and sign with the label. At the same time, Millennium signs a ridiculous black and white, fur coat-clad rap duo called the Hip-Hop Dalmatian. All this leads Dre to quit his job and start his own label, Brown Sugar Records. How nicely it all works out. There are a few chuckle-worthy moments of mild amusement, many brought to us by Sid’s outspoken cousin (Latifah). But none of the characters face challenges worthy to make us care about them. In the end, Brown Sugar proves you can’t set a weak romantic comedy against the backdrop of the hip-hop music scene and expect it to fly.

Perhaps the more you love hip-hop music, the more you’ll love this film, but I doubt it. I’d wait for the video.

—Michelle Fajkus


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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