October 11, 2002
By Veronica Mixon
Brown Sugar is an incredibly sweet
movie about two childhood friends who try to deny
their mutual attraction. It's the latest in a
series of romantic comedies featuring Black characters
and the first film ode to Hip Hop.
When Dre (Taye Diggs) and Sidney (Sanaa Lathan)
talk about the streets, they fondly recall the
neighborhood playground where the early legends
of Hip Hop practiced their rhymes and had friendly
jam sessions. The Hip Hop lifestyle expressed
here is a groovy, gentle Black life of the last
twenty-odd years where kids revved up their self-esteem
instead of their anger. The two friends meet again
in New York when Sidney leaves her writing job
at the L. A. Times to become editor of a Hip Hop
Dre is an executive at big record company but
he's not entirely happy because the slick corporate
management has watered down the true nature of
the music. In fact, he's been chasing a rapper,
Chris (Mos Def) who refuses to take him seriously.
Sidney's best friend, Francine (Queen Latifah
Living Out Loud) suggests that she should
explore a romantic relationship with Dre but she
discovers it's a bit late because he's newly engaged
to Reese (Nicole Ari Parker Showtime's "Soul
Food"). So, Sidney begins to date football
player, Kelby (Boris Kodjoe Love and Basketball).
But Reese and Kelby are uncomfortable with the
friendship of their respective lovers. In one
incredibly powerful scene, Reese boxes with Sidney
and expresses her anger with the gloves.
Director Rick Famuyiwa debut film, The Wood
was well intentioned but stylistically awkward.
He has matured as a filmmaker and Brown
Sugar looks and feels good. Famuyiwa is
one of the few African American filmmakers who
enjoys showing that Black kids come from loving
families and grow up to be good people who have
problems like everyone else.
This is a simple loves story with an attractive
black cast that is slowly building a repertoire
of fine films. Sanaa Lathan, who starred in a
similar film, "Love and Basketball"
is a beautiful treasure. Hopefully, her appearance
in The Best Man, Catfish and Bean Sauce and
Blade is just the beginning of a long, long
career. She has wonderful chemistry with Taye
Diggs (How Stella Got Her Groove Back)
and holds her own opposite Nicole Ari Parker,
an exotic beauty in her own right. Parker has
appeared in Remember the Titans, Boogie Nights
and Showtime's' "Soul Food." Rapper turned actor,
Mos Def gives a funny, poignant performance and
continues to win audiences since appearing in
Bamboozled and on Broadway in "Topdog/Underdog."
Finally, I wished Queen Latifah's part was bigger
because she's become a dependable actress who
always surprises the audience.
Brown Sugar is a delightful, entertaining