The Brothers is a feel-good, Saturday-night-date movie that should also have a successful home video run for privacy-deprived parents on those rare when-the-kids-are finally-asleep nights. The story: Four good-looking, upscale “(“We are the cream of the crop!”) young African-American friends in Los Angeles — the “brothers” — use one another to gain wisdom on how to deal with women. Kind of like the blind leading the blind, wouldn’t you say? But in the capable hands of first-time feature writer/director Gary Hardwick, The Brothers moves from the familiar territory of battle-of-the-sexes cliches, hip-hops through some pretty raunchy language and sex scenes, gets a boost from hilarious predicaments, and actually takes flight with touching insights on love, marriage and family. Reformed run-around hunk Terry (Shemar Moore, TV soap opera The Young and the Restless) announces he’s worked up the courage to actually marry the terrific woman he loves — setting off an identity crisis among the buddies. Derrick (D.L. Hughley, TV’s The Hughleys), disappointed in marriage because his wife won’t give him oral sex, is horrified that Terry would give up bachelorhood. Brian (comic Bill Bellamy, TV’s MTV Jams) has had such a string of failures among the “sisters” that he has started to date white women by default — with no success because he remains an unremitting jerk. The most developed character is Dr. Jackson Smith (Morris Chesnut, The Best Man), who intellectually wants to act like a grown-up with women, but is emotionally paralyzed by the fear that he will repeat the disastrous example of his charming, rogue father, Fred (Clifton Powell, Next Friday), who broke his mother’s (Jenifer Lewis Castaway ) heart. A beautiful, smart, confident photographer, Denise (Gabrielle Union, TV’s City of Angels) enters the scene and throws the poor doctor for a loop. But Denise, alas, has a secret, which Jackson discovers; instead of being mature, he breaks her heart. He stays miserable until he gets some smarts and kisses her back into his life, with the help of the brothers. Interspersed with the romantic escapades of the four brothers are the back stories of their families — especially their mothers, against whom all the brothers inevitably compare their women — and the expectations they have of themselves. You know the movie is a crowd-pleaser when the audience actually cheers some of the lines. The wildest approval came near the end of the movie, after the brothers gather for their weekly basketball game to complain — as usual — about “the sisters.” “Maybe the ladies ain’t the problem,” one of the brothers says, “maybe we’re the problem.” Hallelujah, somebody saw the light at last! What’s sad about this movie is that, no matter how good it is — and it is good — just as little boys don’t often read books with girl heroines, non-blacks rarely see a movie labeled as a “black movie.” Too bad. The Brothers can help young couples of all colors laugh at themselves. And if older couples can get past The Brothers’ street talk, they just might get a big kick out of it, too.
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