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.