How Stella Got Her Groove Back

The movie equivalent of beach-reading, this glossy throwback to classic Hollywood romantic fantasies comes replete with stunning scenery, upscale set design and a sleekly handsome cast. Beautiful, sexy Stella Payne (Angela Bassett) is divorced, 40 years young and a success by pretty much any standard: She's a San Francisco stockbroker with a beautiful house,...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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The movie equivalent of beach-reading, this glossy throwback to classic Hollywood romantic fantasies comes replete with stunning scenery, upscale set design and a sleekly handsome cast. Beautiful, sexy Stella Payne (Angela Bassett) is

divorced, 40 years young and a success by pretty much any standard: She's a San Francisco stockbroker with a beautiful house, a charming adolescent son (Michale J. Pagan), a fabulous wardrobe and a pair of meddlesome sisters (Regina King, Suzzanne Douglas) who should be so lucky as to make as much

of themselves as Stella has. But Stella is tired of the "all work and no play" routine of her life, so while her son's vacationing with his dad she gives in to a sudden impulse and joins sassy gal pal Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) for a trip to Jamaica. To Stella's not entirely credible amazement, she

finds herself hotly pursued by Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs), a handsome, quietly ambitious not-quite 20-year-old local who won't take "I'm old enough to be your mama" for an answer. Quel scandale! Based on the novel by Terry McMillan, whose best-selling Waiting to Exhale became a

bona fide phenomenon on the screen, this lushly produced, lightweight romance embraces every cliché of the genre without so much as an ironic shrug: Recast it in your head with Barbara Stanwyck and Eve Arden in the leads, and its formulaic nature becomes blindingly apparent. First-time feature

director Kevin Rodney Sullivan has a fine eye for billowing curtains and tropical scenery, though a few gorgeous shots of beaches and palm trees could have been sacrificed in the name of keeping things moving: Fluffy material is best served by pacing that doesn't leave you time to think about it

too deeply.

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  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: R
  • Review: The movie equivalent of beach-reading, this glossy throwback to classic Hollywood romantic fantasies comes replete with stunning scenery, upscale set design and a sleekly handsome cast. Beautiful, sexy Stella Payne (Angela Bassett) is divorced, 40 years y… (more)

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