Something New

Something new — and very special — indeed. First-time feature director Sanaa Hamri's virtually perfect romantic comedy is a marvelous mix of brains and heart that confronts serious questions about race and dating with sensitivity, humor and enormous sex appeal. Raised in the rarefied air of African-American high society, Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan)...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Something new — and very special — indeed. First-time feature director Sanaa Hamri's virtually perfect romantic comedy is a marvelous mix of brains and heart that confronts serious questions about race and dating with sensitivity, humor and enormous sex appeal. Raised in the rarefied air of African-American high society, Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) has always been an overachiever, thanks in large part to the pressures placed on her by her socially conscious mother (Alfre Woodard) and the illustrious example set by her father (Earl Billings), the chief of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai. A debutante at 16 and educated at Stanford and Wharton, Kenya is now a highly placed and highly regarded senior funds manager at a prestigious L.A. bank. But regardless of her obvious qualifications, she's still keenly aware of having to pay what's known as "the black tax," that feeling among many African Americans, women in particular, that they must work twice as hard in order to compete in a predominantly white male workplace. In addition to making partner, Kenya would also like to get married one day, so to avoid winding up in that dreaded 42.2 percent of black women who don't, she promises her equally successful friends (including Girlfriends' delightful Golden Brooks) to relax her exceedingly high standards in order to "let go and let flow." What Kenya isn't prepared to let go of, however, is her preference for dating only black men. When her coworker, Leah (Katharine Towne), sets her up on a blind date with a landscape architect named Brian (Simon Baker), Kenya's completely thrown when she discovers that he's white, and ends the date before it even gets started. Brian, however, isn't so easily dissuaded. After running into each other a second time at Leah's wedding, he shows up at Kenya's new house with a proposal: He'll help her landscape that overgrown eyesore of a backyard. Kenya agrees, and soon finds herself letting down her guard just enough to entertain the possibility of trying something new. Sharply written by television writer Kriss Turner, who, astonishingly, is also making her feature-film debut, this warm and enormously sexy comedy (Latham and Baker share a sizzling on-screen chemistry, and without revealing much of anything, their love scenes together are among the hottest since UNFAITHFUL) is also one of the most cogent recent films about interracial attitudes. It's also beautifully detailed: That brief, uncertain pause Kenya takes before stepping off her patio and onto the overgrown grass of her yard says more about her character than pages of dialogue ever could.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Something new — and very special — indeed. First-time feature director Sanaa Hamri's virtually perfect romantic comedy is a marvelous mix of brains and heart that confronts serious questions about race and dating with sensitivity, humor and enormous sex ap… (more)

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