Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Maeve Quinlan, Kevin Hart, Wood Harris, Eddie Cibrian, Jenifer Lewis, Niecy Nash, Cannon Jay, Albert Hall, Jeff Krebs, Nathaniel Carter, Brendon Terrell Ferguson, Kwame Boateng, Henry Brown
Written by: Brian Bird, based on a novel by T.D. Jakes
Directed by: Bill Duke
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual references and thematic elements
Running Time: 99
Date: 01/09/2009
IMDB

Not Easily Broken (2009)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Bond Bombshell

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Morris Chestnut (The Brothers) stars in yet another chick flick, as a sensitive, yet handsome and ripped man who talks about his feelings with friends and listens to bad 1980s pop-jazz with headphones. Based on a novel by T.D. Jakes, the material has potential, weaving the idea of God and religion into the material without any kind of emphasis or commentary. But director Bill Duke has no idea how to shape or visualize it, turning it into a mushy mess with far too much loud music to drive home the emotions. Chestnut plays Dave, who works in construction but always seems to have the day off. He's married to Clarice (Taraji P. Henson), a highly paid and effective real estate agent. They live together almost beyond their means in a big house with lots of stuff. Of course, sensitive Dave wants kids and Clarice doesn't. A car accident messes up Clarice's leg and Dave hires a pretty, blonde, single mom physical therapist, Julie (Maeve Quinlan). Unfortunately, Clarice's shrewish mother (Jenifer Lewis) decides to move in. There's lots of fighting and crying with a death or two thrown in for emphasis. Duke films it all flat, but when it comes time for one of Dave's basketball games, he ramps up the film stock, turning things jumpy and fast and flickery, with hip-hop pounding in the background. Essentially, he mistrusts his audience and tries to pander with every shot and every misplaced transition (why the time-lapse flowers?). But the extraordinary Henson, who suffers through bad writing and rigid character restrictions during the first hour, eventually comes to life in the final third, giving one of her usual, powerful performances. The title refers to a length of rope placed around Dave and Clarice during their wedding. It has three strands: one for each of them and one for God. As long as the three are together, the bond is "not easily broken." Albert Hall plays the bishop during these scenes. Kevin Hart provides the Chris Tucker-like "comic relief."

DVD Details: You know exactly what kind of movie you're going to get when the blurbs on the DVD box come from Tyler Perry and Dr. Phil rather than actual movie critics! TriStar's 2009, distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, comes with a 15-minute making-of featurette (including interview footage with author T.D. Jakes), five minutes of deleted scenes, and previews for other, similar movies. Also available

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