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Review: Jumping the Broom

Painstakingly tailored for the underserved audiences that’ve made Tyler Perry a megastar, this African-American ensemble comedy milks laughs out of the clashes between an uptight old-money clan from Martha’s Vineyard and their brasher Brooklynite in-laws-to-be during a weekend wedding. Lawyer Sabrina (Patton) and banker Jason (Alonso) are certain they’re soul mates, but their families are far from a match made in heaven, no matter how many times their relatives consult their Bibles for guidance. The dueling matriarchs—the tony Mrs. Watson (Bassett) and working-class Mrs. Taylor (Devine)—find immediate fault with one another when, thanks to their offspring’s accelerated courtship, they meet for the first time the day before the ceremony. Macho cousins, hunky chefs, amorous college seniors and aunts with long-kept secrets round out the kaleidoscope of broadly drawn characters.

While Jumping the Broom showcases rarely depicted class issues within the black community, the film still relies on wince-inducing stereotypes to delineate them. Outer-borough folks are down-to-earth, even when being crude or crass; wealthy characters constantly drop French phrases or the term elegant, stopping just short of suggesting a game of tennis with their friends Buffy and Chip at the club. Still, it’s a pleasure to watch Bassett and Devine wage passive-aggressive warfare over shrimp cocktail, even if this dynamic duo gets shortchanged in an overcrowded field in which almost everyone finds love, redemption or both.

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