Brown Sugar

Remember shelltop Adidas and banana clips? Remember Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick? Remember falling in love with hip hop?

Even those who don’t remember probably saw a version of this movie before, only with basketballs, a better script, far less cheese and much, much better cinematography

Ultimately lethargic and shamelessly campy, the problems with “Brown Sugar” start right away.

The viewer is supposed to believe that Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) and Dre (Taye Diggs) fall in love with hip-hop (and each other) at the tender age of 10. In reality, small children would probably not have even noticed that there was a birth of a musical powerhouse going on. Sure, they may have liked the beats or admired the flow, but “Brown Sugar” tries to play hip hop like a pseudo-religion, when at 10, both Sidney and Dre were too young to have really understood the movement.

Another problem is the whole hip hop angle does nothing for this movie. In fact, it’s rather boring. It’s a gimmick, pushing the soundtrack sales and furthering the belief that black people simply can’t fall in love out of the blue. They have to fall in love over something – music, basketball, pregnancy, poetry and so on.

Never, since Chris Claremont’s laughable “X-Treme X-Men” run, has a point been bashed over the heads of the audience so blatantly.

“Brown Sugar” is no Shakespeare, but for those who rode the short yellow bus all the way to Florida A&M, Sidney loves hip hop. She breaks the world record for mentioning hip hop the most times in under two hours without breaking a sweat.

Sidney also narrates the story, comparing love and life with – you guessed it – hip hop. Sound familiar? Sure it does – a Rattler by the name of Common did it years ago, only with a much shorter space, far more creativity and less repetition.

But just because “Brown Sugar” is uninspired and repetitive doesn’t necessarily make it bad. Sanaa Lathan is very charming and beautiful as Sidney. She gives a performance that makes it easy to see how a man could fall in love with her.

Sidney’s sex appeal comes from her beauty and intelligence, and that’s very refreshing. She never throws herself at Dre, never does anything to sabotage his outside relationships and remains a true friend throughout the entire movie.

Taye Diggs gives a forgettable yet decent portrayal as Dre. It’s good to see the portrayal of a black man who, for once, isn’t bitter, sex-starved or dumb as a brick.

However, Diggs fails to leave his mark as anything short of the chocolate eye candy and the chemistry between the leading actors simply doesn’t exist.

“Brown Sugar” earns high marks for its intelligent comedy. The jokes rarely fall flat or go over the edge. The portrayal of mainstream hip hop is absolutely scathing and right on the mark – by far, the best part of the movie. A cute little movie but nothing more, “Brown Sugar” makes for a great Saturday outing or an evening date.