Rated PG-13; Directed by Sanaa Hamri; Starring Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Alfre Woodard, Blair Underwood
I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy. Unfortunately, this genre usually finds a way to disappoint me. It’s hard to create a romance with likable characters facing believable complications. “Something New” somehow manages to overcome these difficulties and finds an interesting complication, plus you can’t help but root for the protagonists.
Kenya (Sanaa Lathan) is a woman with a great job, good friends, a new house, and she’s only missing one thing – a good man to love and marry. The men she meets just don’t live up to her idea of a good partner. Of course, Kenya has a few idiosyncrasies of her own. Words like uptight and shut down describe her personality. When a friend sets her up on a blind date with Brian (Simon Baker), Kenya’s preconceived notions of what the perfect man should be ruins the date. After all, Brian is white and Kenya is black and she’s not interested in crossing the color lines. The thing is that Brian is a great guy, which she begins to realize after hiring him as her landscaper. Meanwhile, her family has high hopes that a new man in her life (played by Blair Underwood) is the one for Kenya.
The story does a great job setting up Kenya’s prejudices. It’s not until she meets Brian that she begins to realize how much she’s ruled by how things look. Brian is wonderful, and as in many screen romances seen from the woman’s point of view, he’s a fantasy figure. He’s a man that can see through a woman’s tough façade to find the genuine, free-spirited woman underneath all the hang-ups, plus he’s good in bed. Ah, fantasy.
Director Sanaa Hamri breathes life into the story and though the comedy sometimes gets a little too forced (usually when Kenya is with her friends), the movie is a pleasant take on the romantic comedy standbys. The performances by the leads are good. Sanaa Lathan (“Love and Basketball”) is a beautiful actress who manages to make Kenya and her problems believable. Simon Baker is a handsome actor who is not given as much character development time, but makes Brian likeable and a worthy love interest.
“Something New” isn’t necessarily something new in romantic comedies, but it does offer a nice romance with a believable plot. For those of you who, like me, are suckers for this sort of thing then you won’t want to miss it.