In today’s society, there are quite a few movies that do not merit solid gold reviews; however, ABC’s 2008 adaptation of “A Raisin in the Sun” is not one of them. Originally a play by Lorraine Hansberry, “A Raisin in the Sun” debuted in Broadway in 1959.
At just 29, Hansberry became not only the youngest American playwright but also the fifth woman and the only black person to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Year.
In 1965, Hansberry died of cancer at the age of 34, however, her masterpiece of a play lived on. In 1961, the play was adapted into a movie featuring the legendary Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee.
In 1973 it was transformed into a Tony award-winning musical, and in 1989, it was once again adapted into a made-for-TV film, according to the play’s Web site.
The 2008 film was inspired by the 2004 Broadway revival, which featured a cast of all-star players including Phylicia Rashad, Sanaa Lathan, Audra McDonald and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs.
The play garnered four Tony award nominations and wins for both Rashad and McDonald. All four of the actors returned to reprise their roles for the 2008 TV movie.
The movie, like the play, centers on the Younger family headed in the 1950s by Lena Younger, played brilliantly by Rashad. Lena is expecting an insurance check of $10,000 and is pondering what she should do with it. Her family members on the other hand know exactly how they want to use it.
Walter Lee, portrayed surprisingly well by Combs, wants to invest the money in a liquor store. His wife, Ruth, played by the talented McDonald, agrees with Lena and wants to use the money for another house.
Beneatha, portrayed by the capable Lathan, wants to use the money to pay for her college education.
Times are rough, and to thicken the storyline, Ruth is pregnant and contemplating getting an abortion. What all four of them learn is that money is nothing when compared to family.
Directed by Kenny Leon, the three-hour movie premiered Monday night and was absolutely amazing. Every single cast member gave solid performances and delivered time after time.
Not only was Rashad convincing as a loving matriarch, but she managed to convey powerful emotions that could captivate viewers. Both McDonald and Lathan were completely superb in their roles and even John Stamos, who showed up in the final hour as the head of a white neighborhood welcoming committee, was both hilarious and believable.
However, the biggest treat of the entire movie was Combs, who gave a very realistic portrayal of a bitter black man whose dreams had always been crushed. The music mogul proved he could hold his own and did a fantastic job in the role.
Aside from a little shaky camera work, the movie was flawless. In a year where pointless comedies and CGI action flicks dominate the box office, future filmmakers should take a look at this work of art. Not only was it inspirational, it was a faultless masterpiece that will unquestionably remain absolutely timeless.