Chick flick mixes issues with the romantic stuff

  • Robert Horton / Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, February 2, 2006 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Anybody still waiting to exhale will want to check out “Something New,” a prime example of Super Bowl weekend counterprogramming. This sleepy romantic comedy relentlessly checks off the chick-flick/black-urban-professional boxes.

Mr. Wonderful: A black urban professional (Sanaa Lathan) finds herself reluctantly falling for a white guy (Simon Baker) and dealing with the fallout from friends and family. A fairly sleepy romantic comedy, complete with perfect male fantasy figure.

Rated: PG-13 rating is for subject matter

Now showing: Alderwood, Pacific Place, Cascade

Our heroine is Kenya (the appealing Sanaa Lathan, from “Love &Basketball”), a driven executive at some sort of financial firm where people dress conservatively and have meetings and talk about buying and selling things.

She’s all business, with rigorous standards about men, which means she’s alone. As if we missed the point, her new house is painted entirely in beige, Kenya’s color of choice.

One color she’s not looking for is white, at least in men. But after she meets Brian (Simon Baker), a white landscape architect who re-designs the backyard of her house, she is forced to reconsider her preference. Or is it a prejudice?

This is one of the questions the movie gets into, in its low-key way. Also addressed is the reaction of Kenya’s family and friends to an interracial affair, and the “black tax” that black professionals are expected to pay in their jobs – the extra work to prove themselves amongst skeptical white folks.

These issues are bandied about, but “Something New” also ladles on the necessary romance and comedy. The latter is especially supplied by Donald Faison (from “Scrubs”) and Mike Epps, two expert comic actors.

It would be nice to report that this felt fresh or at least worth killing an afternoon for. I suppose if you’re the kind of person who really isn’t interested in the Super Bowl, maybe you’ll get a kick out of this. The preview audience applauded, anyway. I am the kind of person who is interested in the Super Bowl, so maybe that’s my preference. Or prejudice.

In any case, director Sanaa Hamri (yes, that’s two Sanaas on the same movie) does everything up in designer style, and treats the male lead with just the same amount of objectifying ogling that many male directors give to their fantasy female figures.

Simon Baker, last seen leading the humans in the excellent zombie film “Land of the Dead,” does stalwart duty as the near-perfect male. (Movie buffs might recall the role of the down-to-earth gardener as being a rehash of Rock Hudson in “All That Heaven Allows.”)

“I take the hard earth and make things bloom,” he tells Kenya, and you get the feeling he isn’t talking about her garden. His character would gladly blow off the Super Bowl in favor of picking out carpet swatches with Kenya. Maybe that’s why I didn’t believe this movie.

Simon Baker and Sanaa Lathan star in “Something New.”

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