Brown Sugar

"Weak"

Brown Sugar Review


To completely understand Brown Sugar requires an appreciation of what hip-hop means to the lives of those who listen to it. Since I'm not well versed in hip-hop music and culture, I didn't understand some parts of the film that the majority of my audience clearly did. I can, however, recognize good filmmaking when I see it. And unfortunately, Brown Sugar is not sweet enough to liven up its predictable story and will leave even fans of hip-hop sorely disappointed.

The film's setup is simple. Dre (Taye Diggs) and Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) have been very close friends since childhood, when hip-hop was just coming into its own. Dre is a well-known hip-hop record producer who is unhappy with his job and is about to get married. Sidney is a magazine editor who is working on a book about the origins of hip-hop and cannot find the right man to fit her groove. She is of course secretly in love with Dre because he is the only man who can connect with her and her music, and Dre is secretly in love with Sidney because she is the only woman who will support his dreams. Both Dre and Sidney have problems with the other's initial choice of spouse (Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe).

I've left some extraneous details out, but basically, Brown Sugar follows the steps Dre and Sidney take in their personal and professional lives as they discover they are meant to be together. We've seen so many of these kinds of predictable, formulaic films that you can guess the outcome. We already know they are meant to be together. The only question is how long it will take before they figure it out. In the case of Brown Sugar, it takes entirely too long. In fact, restless viewers at my screening (including me) were ready for Brown Sugar to come to an end long before the final scene.

At the very least, if the filmmakers were going to use this generic formula, they could have infused the journey with a greater emphasis on the music. This movie would have been a great opportunity to educate me on the inner world of hip-hop. Unfortunately, the characters just talk endlessly about the music, and aside from a few glimpses into recording sessions or visits to clubs, we rarely are permitted to actually hear it. For a film that talks so much about the past and future of hip-hop, why not pervade the film with the music from relative unknown artists trying to break into the hip-hop scene - isn't this Dre's job anyhow?

Brown Sugar is a beautifully photographed film - even the highly made-over stars are uniformly attractive. But the biggest problem with Brown Sugar is that it over-commits to the dry romance and fails to feature enough of the tunes, which could have energized the story. The film starts with an intelligent retrospective of hip-hop roots as told by many of today's biggest artists, but then we're quickly led into the boring and predictable romance. The final product is completely void of anything emotional or exciting. In fact, it is just plain lazy.

DVD features a full length commentary from the director (and inexplicably, the editor joins him), deleted scenes, and two music videos pulled from the film's score.

The queen of sugar.



Brown Sugar

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 11th October 2002

Box Office USA: $27.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $27.4M

Budget: $8M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 56 Rotten: 29

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Sidney 'Syd' Shaw, as Andre Romulus 'Dre' Ellis, as Chris 'Cav' Anton Vichon, as fracine, as Reese Marie Wiggam Ellis, as Kelby Dawson

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.