Something New

Film
KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL Lathan, far right, compares notes with the ladies.
KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL Lathan, far right, compares notes with the ladies.

Time Out says

Skeptical viewers, take heart: Debut helmer Sanaa Hamri’s L.A.-set interracial romantic comedy does live up to its title on occasion. The mismatch between Stanford- and Wharton-pedigreed buppie accountant Kenya (Lathan) and bland, blond, blue-eyed landscape architect Brian (Baker) has as much to do with money as with melanin. Kenya’s black male pals make digs at Brian’s epidermis, referring to him as “her night-light.” But deeper disparagement is reserved for Brian’s profession; clad in dungarees and toiling in soil, he is dismissed as “that gardener.”

Yet even with the Sirkian swirl of All That Heaven Allows—and a terrific performance by Lathan, present in almost every scene—to boost it, Something New cannot escape the fact that its format is something mighty old. Lessons in rom-coms are only skin deep: In 100 minutes Brian will help Kenya get her groove back, convincing her to forgo her weave for her natural hair; a set-to over corporate racism will lead to a lovers’ rift; others will pitch woo; and all will culminate in exchanged vows. The presence of Golden Brooks, one of the stars of UPN’s Girlfriends, as one of Kenya’s professional gal pals reminds us that the politics of race, class and romance in Los Angeles are more astutely assayed on any given 30-minute episode of that show than could ever be hoped for here. (Opens Fri; see Index for venues.)—Melissa Anderson

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