Monday, March 26, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 118



Four buddies learn how to commit in 'The Brothers'

The Brothers

****1/2 (out of five stars)
Rated: R
Starring: Bill Bellamy, Morris Chestnut

Screen Gems

By Maurice Bobb
Daily Cougar Staff

Still sore from the beating they took in the guy-bashing Waiting to Exhale, males now have their own forum with The Brothers.

Dubbed "Refusing to Exhale" by director Gary Hardwick, The Brothers stars Morris Chestnut (The Best Man), D.L. Hughley (Kings of Comedy), Bill Bellamy (Any Given Sunday), and Shemar Moore (The Young and the Restless) as four successful friends who struggle with love, honesty, commitment and the last piece of food. 

This film hopes to open the floodgates on discussion about black love just as Waiting to Exhale did in 1995, but this time from an honest, humorous and testosterone-driven perspective.

The Brothers begins as Terry White (Shemar Moore), a hardcore player with the ladies, announces that he's retiring his number and committing to the big "M" (marriage) -- to the total shock of his crew, who get a bad taste in their mouths just from uttering the word "commitment."

Nicola Goode/Screen Gems

From left to right, Morris Chestnut, D.L. Hughley, Bill Bellamy and Shemar Moore make a toast to the future in The Brothers.

But his news plants a seed in his friends' minds about examining their own lives and relationships.

This movie, although centered on the guys' weekly basketball games, the local club and numerous bedroom encounters, has more to discuss than brothers shooting hoops and chasing women. It explores why men do what they do when it comes to infidelity and fear of ... that dreaded "C" word (commitment).

"I wanted to show the other side of what is going on in these types of stories, beyond the problems that men might have with women," Hardwick said. "We go a little deeper to deal with the families, to deal with the first women that they ever loved -- their mothers -- and to show how these things are inextricably connected to one another."

Jackson Smith (Morris Chestnut) suffers from an intense fear of commitment, often having nightmares in which a scorned bride uses him for target practice.

Jackson seeks professional therapy for his condition and hopes that it won't affect his new relationship with Denise Johnson (Gabrielle Union of Bring It On).

Brian Palmer (Bill Bellamy) is a lawyer who continually dogs black women and goes so far as to date a white woman just because he thinks she'll be different. The eternal pessimist, Brian acts as the extreme reality check for the guys' plight in finding love.

Derrick West (D. L. Hughley) is the only married man in the crew, trapped in a sexually frustrating marriage to Sheila (Tamala Jones). 

Derrick provides some of the movie's funniest moments, as real-life situations have always been Hughley's comedic strong point. Like most men in relationships, he spends half the relationship saying, "Hey baby, what would you say if I said we should ... uh ... you know?"

The all-star cast also includes veteran actress Jenifer Lewis and Clifton Powell, who star as Jackson's parents, Louise and Fred Smith. Tatyana Ali plays Jackson's independent-minded little sister, Chere. Susan Dalian stars as Terry's fiancée, Bebe Fales, and Marla Gibbs gives a "take no jive" performance as Derrick's mother, Mary West. 

Louise sets the tone for the women in the movie by telling them that if a man gives you his last piece of food, then he really loves you.

Despite the seriousness of the issues brought out by the film, there is enough comedy to keep you laughing long after the film is over; Bellamy and Hughley will leave your stomach hurting. So men, this is our movie. But be warned: if you take your girl, be ready for a barrage of relationship questions afterwards.

You'll like this movie, but it hits just a little too close to home. Just let her have the last piece of food.

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