The Brothers

Directed by Gary Hardwick
Starring: Morris Chestnut, D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy, Shemar Moore, Gabrielle Union, Tatyana Ali, Jenifer Lewis, Tamala Jones.
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and language.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <>
March 29, 2001

First off, I would like to thank Matt for asking me to see this film. [You're welcome, Evy, but don't forget to thank the real Erin Brockovich. --Ed.] If it were not for his hectic weekend schedule and the Oscars, I would never have seen The Brothers. I usually run screaming from movies that have "important things to say" about love, family and being a man or a woman. My mother says I only like films where people blow things up, kick other people, or do a lot of drugs. Even though there is hardly any kicking or gunfire, absolutely no drugs (unless you count alcohol), and plenty of advice on life and love in this film, I adored it. My mother would be so proud.

The Brothers centers around four friends -- Jackson, Terry, Derek and Brian -- who meet once a week for basketball and drinks. As the film opens Terry (Shemar Moore) breaks the male-only rule by bringing his girlfriend BeBe (Susan Dalian) to the bar and announcing their engagement. His engagement causes the other men to examine their relationships with women. Jackson (Morris Chestnut), a man so terrified of commitment that he has a recurring nightmare of being shot at by a bride, decides that he needs a good woman in his life. Derek (D.L Hughley) begins to be dissatisfied with his marriage and Bryan, a womanizing lawyer, swears off black women all together and starts dating a white woman. Jackson falls in love with Denise Johnson (Gabrielle Union) but loses her because he cannot accept her past. As he tries to win her back, he gets advice and support from his friends and mother.

Despite the title, the film is in many ways an ode to black women, especially wives and mothers. It celebrates their strength, wisdom, and above all their patience. It is this love and appreciation for women that keeps writer and director Gary Hardwick's film from being just another story about a player finally falling in love. The film's entertaining side plots and the attention given to all forms of relationships (marriage, dating, casual sex, friendship, family) also add richness.

The performances are strong and charismatic, particularly Morris Chestnut as Jackson Smith and Jenifer Lewis as his mother Louise. Both of them shine in the humorous as well as dramatic scenes. Gabrielle Union is a perfect leading lady. She is beautiful and a good actress. I am glad she has graduated from bit parts in teen films (Bring It On, She's All That, and 10 Things I Hate About You) and is finally playing a fully developed character close to her own age. I did find Bill Bellamy a little irritating, but this was the fault of his character as much as him. His constant harping on "bitches" got tiresome and was mostly not funny.

The real comic genius of the film is D.L. Hughley as Derek. He brings a delightful energy, intensity, and sweetness to his role of a husband trying to redefine his marriage on his own terms without consulting his wife or her feelings. Despite the dumb things he does, I couldn't dislike Derek even a little bit. Tamala Jones, who plays Derek's wife Sheila, deserves praise for being able to keep a straight face long enough to film any scenes. Stay for the credits; the outtakes feature plenty of funny things Hughley said that didn't make it into the movie.

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The Brothers (2001/I)

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