There were a few odds against going to see this Romantic Comedy during its opening weekend. First, I despise Romantic Comedies. A lot of my issues with them are business-related but some are personal. As a matter of fact, I partly blame them for the struggles my husband and I had in the first few years of our marriage. The fairytale romances I would pour over every weekend as a single woman were set ups! The unrealistic expectations I was brainwashed into were bound to cause misery for Michael and I in the beginning. I struggled with this post. Perhaps I’m still harboring some hard feelings against those comedies for the damage they caused. Needless to say, you usually won’t find me rushing to the theaters to see a cheesy love story interspersed with one liners and jokes.
Another strike against seeing Jumping was that it was opening weekend at theaters. Being the fru gal that I am, my theater-going experiences have diminished. I simply can’t bring myself to pay full price for things when I can get them cheaper by being patient. That goes for anything from clothing to movies, so usually, if it’s not a film I’m trying to support, I Netflix.
What’s funny is that my husband didn’t have to drag me out to the theater to see Jumping a few weeks ago. Call it a desperate attempt for a new mom to get out the house but I, in fact, suggested that we go see the wildly publicized film with the all-star cast.
Jumping did not disappoint.
What peaked my interest was its good bone work—the casting and marketing were exceptional. First, in this well-written and well-balanced distribution of talent, everyone seemed to fit in their roles and no one stood out as a miscast. Secondly, it was hard not to miss the aggressive marketing campaign. Whether I was browsing the internet or people-gazing on the bus, Jumping ads were everywhere. I was extremely encouraged to see that type of money pumped into an up-beat, family friendly film with an all-Black cast. It says to me that either Hollywood is gaining more confidence in Black films or Black power players are becoming more influential, or both.
Allowing inflated ticket prices to push me away from movie theaters may have been a mistake. Jumping reminded me of how the theater experience can take a funny film and amplify it. I had a surprisingly good time watching Mike Epps and Loretta Divine act a fool in this fun depiction of two very different families coming together for a wedding. I recall wiping away tears from all the laughing I did, which was refreshing. I can’t say I’ve done that for a while. Granted, my experience may have been colored a bit from my excitement of being out on a date with my husband after months, but this movie was worth seeing. Below are some other things I took note of:
Laz Alonso is hot (but can’t hold a candle to the founder of this blog). Moving on…
What stood out to me is that men are the moral consciousness of this movie. This is rare, particularly when it comes to the romantic comedy genre. Usually male characters are immature, deviant, or morally ambiguous characters who heavily rely on the female friend, co-worker, family member, or love interest to teach, guide, or tame them; not so in Jumping. In fact, the strong male leads are centered, honest, forthcoming, sensitive, and even spiritual beings with moral grounding. The film’s women, on the other hand, are accusatory, emotionally immature, irrational, manipulative, and just a whole lot of “extra” (translation: drama), which, as a woman, didn’t bother me. Coming from a family of women, I’ve seen my fair share of feminine drama, particularly during weddings. Let me be clear that Jumping didn’t paint women as evil and men as good but instead worked to not deify women and demonize men, which was a change.
In a rare movie moment, a three dimensional Black man is presented in Jumping the Broom. From the groom to the groomsmen, this film offers a balanced approach to the Black male image, which I can’t help but think Bishop TD Jakes had something to do with. Bishop Jakes, one of the film’s producers and stars, seems to be a big proponent of positive male presence in the movies he’s involved with; example, his last film, Not Easily Broken. Too bad Broken wasn’t as good of a film as Jumping.
Mike Epps and Laz Alonso’s characters displayed the most moral grounding in Jumping. Yes, you read correctly: Mike Epps plays a morally-centered character.
The groom (Alonso) is spiritual, accomplished, well-educated from his hard work, not his pedigree, and disciplined both sexually and otherwise. He also responsibly loves and cares for his mother. In the movie, the centered and calm groom effectively manages two waves of emotional turmoil from his bride and mother; which is quite impressive. I actually felt sorry for the guy a few times during the film and was surprised at his incredible grounding and control during situations where most men would either avoid or run. He even, at one point, had to reach out to the good Lord for help.
Sure, Mike Epps’ character (the uncle of the groom) is sketchy but in a harmless/hilarious sort of way. He loves the ladies and holds tightly to the player’s game but deep down, he is grounded and sober-minded. Epps has often played the impish comedic relief role, and while he is definitely comedic relief, his character is the only one able to put the out-of-line and out-of-control mother of the groom, Loretta Devine, in check.
The father of the bride and the groomsmen also bring some very interesting moral play to the story further making this film a champion of males. Guys: this just may be one “chick flick” you won’t mind seeing with your girl.
Some spiritual things to note were related to faith and how seriously, or not, we take it. Loretta Devine’s character shows us how we sometimes hide behind our faith to cover up our own sins and fears. As the mother of the groom, she was obviously grieving the loss of her son to his new wife, but instead of seeking healthy ways to deal with her sorrow, she chooses manipulative methods and pulls the God-card to add value to what she’s done. Unfortunately, pulling the God card has become quite a trend.
I also like how the idea of celibacy is handled in this fun love story. Celibacy is introduced in the movie not because of a bet between friends or a game, or a joke, but in the context of faith. Really…when was the last time we saw that successfully done in a film? To the betrothed couple, celibacy was something to be taken seriously (although it was also fodder for some pretty hilarious jokes). It was a commitment of faith and was something that, obviously, was not easy between the two lovers. I’m glad the filmmakers didn’t trivialize the discipline and the commitment it takes to reserve sexuality for marriage. I think the movie began to accurately get at how special, gratifying, and sacred a commitment to celibacy is and in a way that wasn’t preachy, religious, or gimmicky but natural. To see the couple willfully and painfully discipline themselves in anticipation of marriage was more a display of love than the sexual act itself.
A final note about what this movie got right. Family drama. Take any couple, Black, White, rich or poor, and bring them together for a marriage. Be prepared for more drama than a Tyler Perry film. The drama is a by-product of “the two becoming one,” arguably a traumatic experience that usually brings out the worst in everyone. Jumping gives a rundown of each and every tantrum, outburst, and response to the marriage from momma to homeboy. It notes that the main culprit of the drama is fear and anxiety: fear of the unknown, fear of losing a friend or child to someone else, and fear of being alone. In the end this movie jumps more than the broom. It gave me a little hope by jumping over my ill-fated expectations of romantic comedies.
Have you seen the film? What did you think?