“Let go, let flow,” is the advice given to Kenya McQueen by her friends and a self-help guru. In time for Valentine’s Day, “Something New,” by first time director Sanaa Hamri, delivers a tasteful, enjoyable, and sometimes humorous though predictable mature chick flick.
It follows the professional and private life of Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan), an uptight, successful, single African American woman in search of an IBM (Ideal Black Male). In the midst of making partner in her law firm, love comes to her in a form she least expects: Brian Kelly (Simon Baker), an attractive and talented white landscape gardener. They meet on a blind date that ends in shambles and he offers to make over her backyard. Love blossoms between them
The movie effectively touches on the realistic aspect of racism in the work place and interracial dating, which was the primary reason for Kenya’s cautious nature. Her elite African-American parents disapprove of their romance, particularly her nit-picking “Oprah-esque” mother Joyce (Alfre Woodward) who hopes to set her daughter up with an equally educated and successful African- American man. During a family get together, Kenya’s brother Nelson (Donald Faison) introduces her to Mark Harper (Blair Underwood), a friend of his who meets her qualifications of an IBM. After having an argument about their racial differences, Kenya and Brian end their relationship and she begins dating Mark.
While her parents, especially her mother are thrilled with their union, Kenya conceals her resentment and misses the feeling of genuine joy and freedom with Brian.
The movie depicts the issues interracial couples face, along with awkward conversations between them about their racial differences. One topic that is covered is the “Black Tax” that Kenya tries to explain to Brian, which means that minorities have to work harder in the work place to prove themselves as equals.
The film also proves how love can come at the most unexpected times and may teach us that sometimes we really do not know what we want although we may say we do.
Color was another theme covered in the movie, along with diversity. The variety of colors throughout the film are an effective motif, which contrasts Kenya’s plain Jane self. It equally reflects Brian’s carefree personality, which inspires her to add color to her home and her life.
Adding color to Kenya’s bland life represents herself coming into her own and rebelling against her parents’ expectations of her.
The ending of “Something New” is predictable and fairy-tale like, but the events that lead up to it add substance to the movie and make it worth watching. The cast is well selected, but it would have been more humorous if there had been more scenes with the ever amusing Donald Faison and possibly a heartfelt scene with him and his sister.
Sanaa Lathan plays the movie’s heroine well and proves she can carry a lead role successfully. She has the potential to be the next “big thing” if she carefully selects her next movie roles.
“Something New” is a heartfelt romantic comedy that a female audience will be attracted to, but couples and singles alike can enjoy on a personal level.