It’s hard to completely condemn something that adheres as closely to genre conventions as Something New, but it’s hard to fully recommend it either. This will certainly fill the void for those in search of a Valentine’s Day date movie, but it does nothing to propel itself above the mediocre realm.
Kenya Mcqueen (Sanaa Lathan) is a highly successful corporate accountant. Kenya is a modern, independent African American woman, but as is the case with most career oriented people, whether male or female, she has let her love life take a backseat to her work. Kenya accepts a blind date (set up by her white, Jewish, co-worker). Her blind date with Brian (Simon Baker) is disastrous, but they meet again at a party. After discovering that Brian is a skilled landscaper, Kenya hires him to help out with her yard and the sparks begin to fly from there.
Naturally there are a few complications involving, amongst other things, Kenya’s IBM (Ideal Black Male). He is played by Blair Underwood and is a perfectly acceptable man, but obviously does not make Kenya feel the way that Brian does.
This is director Sanaa Hamri’s first film, and working from a script by Kriss Turner, she manages to spin an offering that, while offering no crossover appeal, will certainly please fans of this film genre. The story wants to be edgy, but the interracial romance angle has been played before and to better effect. What we’re left with, when the film is stripped of those elements, is a standard romance movie with comedic elements.
The acting in the movie helps. Sanaa Lathan manages to portray Kenya as a sympathetic, well developed individual. Simon Baker is less memorable, but this movie isn’t really about his character anyway. Something New’s focus is on Kenya and the development of her relationship with Brian. While not electric, the two of them enjoy a bit of mild chemistry. It’s certainly enough to keep Something New afloat for its 100 minute running time.
There are certain blatant missteps in the movie, including some obnoxiously obvious symbolism, but a less discerning viewer may not notice the significance of what Brian does to Kenya’s yard.
Men, suck it up and go see this with your girlfriend. If your girl is into this sort of thing, they’ll enjoy it and it’s an easy way to score some points. It won’t be entirely unbearable for you.
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.