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With: Morris Chestnut, Bill Bellamy, D.L. Hughley, Shemar Moore, Gabrielle Union, Tamala R. Jones, Tatyana Ali, Jenifer Lewis, Clifton Powell, Susan Dalian, Marla Gibbs, Julie Benz, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Angelle Brooks, Kimberly Scott
Written by: Gary Hardwick
Directed by: Gary Hardwick
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and language
Running Time: 106
Date: 02/18/2001

The Brothers (2001)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

One for the Sisters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Don't let the ads fool you. The Brothers is a chick flick disguised as a guy flick. It's a full-on, touchy-feely, Enchanted April kind of a flick. The guys in this movie don't talk about sports, movies, or video games. They don't try to catch bad guys or rescue damsels in distress. Instead, they talk about their feelings. For 97 minutes.

The movie opens with Jackson (Morris Chestnut, from The Best Man) talking to a shrink, confessing his deep-down fear of commitment. "I just can't see myself ever getting married," he says. Does anyone believe this for even a second? To top it off, Jackson keeps having dreams about a woman in a wedding dress shooting a gun at him.

Jackson's buddy Terry (Shemar Moore, from The Young and the Restless) proposes to his girlfriend, who carries a gun with her. (Does everyone see where this is going?) Terry is also afraid of commitment. Their friend Derrick (D.L. Hughley, from The Original Kings of Comedy) is already married and has a daughter, though we find out that the marriage came as a result of an unexpected pregnancy. And the fourth friend Brian (Bill Bellamy, from Any Given Sunday) is not only afraid of marriage, but dates white chicks, much to the annoyance of every other character.

Each guy deals with his own measly emotional problems. Derrick is upset because he can't get oral sex from his wife. Jackson's new girlfriend once dated his own father. And Brian can't get his mother to hug him. (I swear I'm not making this up!) That's about the depth of the story. Nobody gets pregnant or comes down with a disease. We basically wait for these four guys to stop whining and find girlfriends.

Our impatience is understandable. The Brothers wastes some real potential. This is the first movie in ages with African American leading characters playing doctors, lawyers, and young professionals. They dress well, don't take drugs, and behave reasonably politely. Why these guys shouldn't have harems banging down their doors is a mystery. Why we should care is an even bigger mystery.

The actors are skilled and do what they can with their limited and phony roles. Hughley especially punches some personality in there and gets off some funny lines (mostly in the outtakes during the end credits). And Tamala R. Jones plays Hughley's wife with a strong comic presence, keeping herself afloat alongside the lively comic.

I'm not against chick flicks as a whole, but filmmakers almost always settle for less, providing nothing more than what the conventions require. The Brothers takes every familiar short cut and fills each and every moment with phony, gushy talk and hugs. Not one scene rings true or feels the slightest bit spontaneous. The whole picture just feels like it's been laminated.

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